Instagram Burying “Harmful” Content in User Feeds with New Update

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After debuting a new subscription feature that lets users make money off of their audiences in Instagram, the company is now rolling out some of the less-interesting-though-no-less-important updates now.

white and blue labeled book
Photo by Souvik Banerjee

And it all has to do with the algorithm; specifically, what it serves up to users as they explore their feed.

As many of you are probably aware if you follow this blog, Instagram has a bit of a problem with harmful content like bullying and posts that encourage bad behavior. There’s a huge debate around whether this content is appropriate at all, whether censorship is appropriate, and how the platform should handle it. Erring towards the middle ground where people still get to post whatever they feel like within reason but also keeping it away from all but those who really don’t want to see it, Instagram is going to start burying this content thus forcing users to do a little more leg work if they want to view it. It’ll be there, just really buried within the user feed, Instagram says in a blog post.

“If our systems detect that a post may contain bullying, hate speech or may incite violence, we’ll show it lower on Feeds and Stories of that person’s followers. To understand if something may break our rules, we'll look at things like if a caption is similar to a caption that previously broke our rules. We’re constantly improving our systems to be as precise as possible, not only to help remove harmful content from Instagram, but to also make our enforcement as accurate as we can,” the blog post explains.

Reporting content will also figure into how your feed is displayed with reported posts factoring into the algorithm as some of the content that the user may not want to view in the future.

“Your Feed is a collection of posts from the people you follow, ads, and posts we recommend to you. We rank content in your Feed based on how likely we think you are to interact with a post in different ways, like commenting, liking and saving. These signals help us connect you to the content that we think you want to see the most.

Now, we’ll also consider how likely we think you are to report a post as one of the signals we use to personalize your Feed. If our systems predict you’re likely to report a post based on your history of reporting content, we will show the post lower in your Feed.”

What’s your opinion of some of Instagram’s latest changes, such as the proposed subscription feature rolling out next week? Let us know your thoughts on Instagram’s updates in the comments below.

Check out some of our other photography news on Light Stalking at this link right here.

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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