In what could be one of the most impactful changes to the algorithm, Instagram and Meta’s answer to X, Threads, will no longer suggest political content to users who don’t opt in.
Meta announced the news Friday, ending a busy week for the social media giant. Just a few days ago, the company said it would begin labeling AI-generated images it detects and debuted new tools for minors regarding sextortion scams. The latter came after the week prior’s contentious Senate hearing regarding child safety online as well.
As with the move to label possible AI-generated images, Meta no longer suggesting political content comes right as the 2024 election starts ramping up. Election season is already underway and some primaries have already wrapped. Still, there are several months to go before election day.
The change will affect Explore, Reels, In-Feed Recommendations, and Suggested Users. However, it won’t impact content from accounts users already follow, meaning if someone follows a political account or any other account that posts political content, it should still appear.
“We want Instagram and Threads to be a great experience for everyone,” a release announcing the update says. “If you decide to follow accounts that post political content, we don’t want to get between you and their posts, but we also don’t want to proactively recommend political content from accounts you don’t follow.”
Further, if a user does want to continue seeing political content, regardless of whether or not they’re already following the account, they can opt in. For professional accounts on Instagram, they can check “Account Status” to see if they can still get recommended “based on whether they recently posted political content,” the release announcing the change says.
While only Instagram and Threads are affected right now, Meta said in its release that the same control will come to Facebook “at a later date.”
“We’re always working to improve our recommendation systems and give people control so we can connect people with the most relevant posts to them,” the release added. “We’ll roll out these changes slowly over time to get this right.”
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.