Instagram and Facebook have been under scrutiny for removing posts that highlight the conditions of Palestinians in the streets of Jerusalem. The censorship problems were initially attributed to bugs, including a “security feature” that prevents users from posting Instagram stories about Palestinian displacement and other global events.
However, Facebook and Instagram employees spoke up revealing that it wasn’t a bug or a feature and that “their platforms democratized information”.
The employee group had numerous appeals about content that had been censored by Instagram’s automated moderation, such as posts about the al-Aqsa mosque being removed. They said that they don’t believe the censorship was deliberate but it was being moderated at a scale that is biased against any marginalized groups.
After constant probing by users and employees, Instagram has decided to make the required changes to its algorithm. The platform typically surfaces original content in its stories before reposted content. However, according to The Verge, from now on, it will give equal weightage to both.
Yesterday we experienced a technical bug, which impacted millions of people’s stories, highlights and archives around the world. For people impacted by this bug, they saw their stories that were re-sharing posts disappear and their archive and highlights stories were missing. https://t.co/E2WTcTN7Jt
— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) May 7, 2021
This change is not only in response to concerns over pro-Palestinian content. Facebook officials have realized that the way the app surfaces posts it believes its users care about most has led people to believe it was suppressing certain points of view or topics. A Facebook spokesperson said,
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 it’s about.