Instagram adjusts its algorithm after accusations of Palestinian censorship

Instagram is changing its app to show more posts related to current affairs and viral amid complaints from its employees that pro-Palestinian content was not seen by users during the recent conflict in Gaza.

Until now, the social media app has prioritized original content in Stories that are displayed above a user’s feed over content that is reshared or reposted from other people.

Now Instagram will rank original and reposted content equally, according to two people familiar with the situation and internal staff messages, in a move that will help posts about breaking news find a wider audience.

A company spokesperson said there had been an increase in user sharing of posts about the recent conflict in Gaza, but that the way the app was currently set up had a “more than expected impact” on the number of people who viewed the posts.

“Stories reposting feed posts are not up to what people expect, and this is not a good experience,” the spokesperson said. “Over time, we’ll move on to giving equal importance to reshared posts as we do to original stories.”

Instagram said the move was not a complete response to problems with pro-Palestinian content, but that it had been considered for some time.

The spokesperson said that the algorithm “made people think we were suppressing stories about certain topics or viewpoints,” but added, “We want to be really clear — that’s not the case. This applies to any post that gets re-shared in Stories, regardless of its topic.” .

A group of 50 employees within Facebook, the owner of Instagram, has raised concerns about the suppression of pro-Palestinian voices, said one of the employees involved.

The employee said the group had filed more than 80 appeals about content that was censored by the company’s automated moderation system. BuzzFeed earlier too mentioned on the existence of the group.

Facebook’s algorithms labeled words commonly used by Palestinian users, such as “martyr” and “resistance” as incitement to violence and removed posts about Al-Aqsa Mosque after they were mistakenly linked between Islam’s third holiest site and a terrorist organization, according to the United States. media reports.

The employee told the Financial Times he did not believe there was deliberate censorship by Facebook, but noted that “widespread moderation is biased against any marginalized groups” and leads to an over-implementation of removals.

Facebook said: “We know there were many issues that affected people’s ability to participate on our apps. We apologize to anyone who felt unable to draw attention to important events, or who felt this was a deliberate suppression of their voice. This was never our intent, nor We never want to silence a particular community or point of view.”

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