Instagram has announced that it will change its content algorithm after Pro-Palestinian content was removed from the platform.
Palestinians and pro-Palestine activists were highly critical of Facebook and Instagram after Instagram stories containing information about violence against Palestinians in the Gaza strip were deleted.
According to reports by Buzzfeed and the Financial Times, Instagram employees appealed to the company after content about events like the storming of al-Adsqa mosque by Israeli soldiers were censored by the platform’s automated moderation feature.
The platform also apologised for the restriction of Palestinian accounts from posting to the app, which they said was the result of a technical bug.
Instagram deleted my entire highlight of posts about what’s going on in Palestine so if you’re paying even the slightest amount of attention I need you to amplify our voices NOW.
— viva Palestina 🇵🇸 (@ahlam_m970) May 6, 2021
Instagram stories were being blocked from users in Colombia, Canada & Palestine leading to accusations that the app was blocking political content in those places. Internally, employees flagged concerns as well. But the explanation turned out to be a bug.https://t.co/XLJzW9wLcE
— Ryan Mac🙃 (@RMac18) May 7, 2021
Instagram head Adam Mosseri tweeted about the bug.
Many people thought we were removing their content because of what they posted or what hashtag they used, but this bug wasn’t related to the content itself, but rather a widespread issue that has now been fixed.
— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) May 7, 2021
The core issue with Instagram’s algorithm is that it favours original content in stories rather than reposted content, so reshared content about the situation in Palestine had less traction. Now, it will give equal priority to both reshared and original content.
According to a statement from a Facebook spokesperson to publication The Verge, this resulted in people thinking that the app was quashing certain content but, “we want to be really clear – this isn’t the case.”
“This applied to any post that’s re-shared in stories, no matter what’s it about.”