The social media platform Instagram was accused of pro-Palestinian messages during the recent Gaza conflict and now the company is trying to changing the way it showcases content.
The company said that the current system provides for giving precedence for original content in its “stories” feature compared to posts that contained existing or re-shared content. Now however the company wants to give equal treatment to both types of content.
The present system of selection had a “bigger impact than expected” on some types of posts, the company said. It however said that was something that was completely unintended and was a side effect and should not be viewed as a deliberate attempt to censor any particular viewpoint,
Social media platforms were heavily used to spread messages of support on both sides during the recent Gaza conflict. Among those contents that were widely shared were many pro-Palestinian messages and under the currently prevailing system of Instagram, such posts would have received less prominence on the platform compared to original posts.
The data that most Instagram users had more stories to follow than time to check them was the reasons that the company chose to follow the system of prioritising original posts, said a company spokeswoman, and added that the company believed that most users would be “more interested in original stories from their closest friends”.
“It’s also caused people to believe we were suppressing stories about particular topics or points of view. We want to be really clear – this isn’t the case,” she said. “This applied to any post that’s re-shared in stories, no matter what it’s about,” she added.
The platform said that an increase in the number of people who are re-sharing posts in general was witnessed by it but the platform is now acknowledging that posts not “getting the reach people expect them to” is “not a good experience”.
This issue had been witnessed by the company over a long period of time, the spokeswoman also said, and added that this latest measure by the company was not a reaction to the recent controversy only.
There were questions raised by some users – and employees about the manner in which Facebook handled posts about the Gaza conflict on its own platform as well as on the apps that are owned by it such as Instagram.
The internal strive with the company how warnings were often attached to Palestinian-related content, reported Buzzfeed News while a report published by the Financial Times claimed that concerns about supposed suppression of pro-Palestinian content were raised with in the company by a group of up to 50 employees.
The report however also said that large-scale automated moderation instead of deliberate attempts by individuals to restrict content was the cause of many of the issues.
“We still think people want to see more original stories, so we’re looking at other ways to focus stories on original content through things like new creative tools,” Instagram added.
(Adapted from BBC.com)