Instagram Reviews How Its Policies and Algorithms Negatively Affect Black Users
Instagram has become a popular platform for the Black Live Matter movement, with supporters using the social network to demand justice, express solidarity, support businesses, amplify voices, and raise awareness. But while a revolution rages on the surface, Instagram is reconciling how it treats equality at the core.
“In the last few weeks, we’ve seen an incredible movement happening around the world. As these important conversations have come to our platform, we’ve seen communities on Instagram mobilizing,” CEO Adam Mosseri wrote in a blog post.
“At the same time, we’re also hearing concern about whether we suppress Black voices and whether our products and policies treat everyone equally,” he continued, highlighting the irony that “we’re a platform that stands for elevating Black voices, but at the same time Black people are often harassed, afraid of being ‘shadowbanned’ and disagree with many content takedowns.”
For years, users have complained of stealth banning—the act of blocking someone and/or their content in such a way that they don’t realize it’s happening. Instagram promised more information “soon” about the types of posts it avoids recommending. The company, which has previously taken steps to curb online bullying and bolster mental health, is turning its focus toward underrepresented groups at and on Instagram.
“We need to better support the Black community within our own organization, as well as on our platform,” according to Mosseri, who outlined four key elements for change:
- Harassment: Address safety inequalities on and off the site and fill gaps in products and policies
- Account verification: Adjust current criteria to ensure inclusivity
- Distribution: Review how content is filtered on Explore and Hashtag pages
- Algorithmic bias: Investigate how internal technology enforces inequality
“This work is going to take some time, but we’re going to provide updates over the next few months both about what we learn and what we address,” Mosseri said. “These efforts won’t stop with the disparities people may experience solely on the basis of race; we’re also going to look at how we can better serve other underrepresented groups that use our product,” including the LGBTQ+ community and body positivity activists.