Users Outraged by Instagram and Threads Limiting Political Content Ahead of Election

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Meta announced that it will no longer “proactively recommend” political content when users were not following the account.

A number of users of popular social media platforms Instagram and Threads have expressed outrage at the decision to limit political content ahead of the 2024 presidential election by changing the settings of all users.

The Zuckerburg-owned platforms changed their algorithm settings, reportedly over the last 48 hours, to a default that limits political content, angering users who want to see political content and account-holders with political pages.

Meta announced part of the change on Feb. 9, saying that it will no longer “proactively recommend” political content when users were not following the account.

No restrictions would apply to accounts users already follow, Meta said at the time.

The algorithm change is in addition to the earlier change, and will have a much greater impact for many users that don’t notice it or know how to change their settings back to the way they were.

Political account holders of all affiliations posted their outrage on Instagram Saturday.

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“We should all be outraged but this overstep,” independent journalist Jessica Reed Kraus wrote to her 1.2 million Instagram followers. “Censorship during peak campaign months is a direct threat to the [sic] democracy.”

Citizen journalist at “The Typical Liberal” Grant Godwin said: “Limiting political posts right before the 2024 election. Go figure. Share this everywhere and DM your favorite political accounts to let them know!”

The “political content” setting can be found under “content preferences” on Instagram, and can be changed from “limit” to “don’t limit.”

A spokesperson for Meta said about the change: “This announcement expands on years of work on how we approach and treat political content based on what people have told us they wanted. It does not impact posts from accounts people choose to follow; it impacts what the system recommends. And now, people are going to be able to control whether they would like to have these types of posts recommended to them.”

The exact timeline for the change was unclear, as well as the reason for the change.

There have been reports that when some Instagram users tried to change their settings, the app crashed.

“The entire app crashes when I go to political settings. That’s wild,” one user posted on Friday.

“Interesting I went to my settings and privacy and content & went to limit, and it takes me back out of Instagram. It won’t let me change it!!” another wrote.

Meta platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, have been strongly criticized by conservatives for alleged disinformation and bias during campaign seasons before elections.

Mark Zuckerburg donated over $400 million to nonprofit organizations that help administer elections in 2020. At the time, some critics including billionaire Elon Musk believed that the donations disproportionately helped Democrats, but the nonprofits claimed to be nonpartisan.

The 2020 elections were held when many communities were still shut down or social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mr. Zuckerberg did not endorse Joe Biden before the 2020 election, but quickly backed him as the winner of the election in November when there was still controversy and doubt about who would ultimately emerge as victorious.
Mr. Zuckerberg did not give a large donation to the same groups during the midterm elections in 2022.A number of users of popular social media platforms Instagram and Threads have expressed outrage at the decision to limit political content ahead of the 2024 presidential election by changing the settings of all users.

The Zuckerburg-owned platforms changed their algorithm settings, reportedly over the last 48 hours, to a default that limits political content, angering users who want to see political content and account-holders with political pages.

Meta announced part of the change on Feb. 9, saying that it will no longer “proactively recommend” political content when users were not following the account.

No restrictions would apply to accounts users already follow, Meta said at the time.

The algorithm change is in addition to the earlier change, and will have a much greater impact for many users that don’t notice it or know how to change their settings back to the way they were.

Political account holders of all affiliations posted their outrage on Instagram Saturday.

“We should all be outraged but this overstep,” independent journalist Jessica Reed Kraus wrote to her 1.2 million Instagram followers. “Censorship during peak campaign months is a direct threat to the [sic] democracy.”

Citizen journalist at “The Typical Liberal” Grant Godwin said: “Limiting political posts right before the 2024 election. Go figure. Share this everywhere and DM your favorite political accounts to let them know!”

The “political content” setting can be found under “content preferences” on Instagram, and can be changed from “limit” to “don’t limit.”

A spokesperson for Meta said about the change: “This announcement expands on years of work on how we approach and treat political content based on what people have told us they wanted. It does not impact posts from accounts people choose to follow; it impacts what the system recommends. And now, people are going to be able to control whether they would like to have these types of posts recommended to them.”

The exact timeline for the change was unclear, as well as the reason for the change.

There have been reports that when some Instagram users tried to change their settings, the app crashed.

“The entire app crashes when I go to political settings. That’s wild,” one user posted on Friday.

“Interesting I went to my settings and privacy and content & went to limit, and it takes me back out of Instagram. It won’t let me change it!!” another wrote.

Meta platforms, including Instagram and Facebook, have been strongly criticized by conservatives for alleged disinformation and bias during campaign seasons before elections.

Mark Zuckerburg donated over $400 million to nonprofit organizations that help administer elections in 2020. At the time, some critics including billionaire Elon Musk believed that the donations disproportionately helped Democrats, but the nonprofits claimed to be nonpartisan.

The 2020 elections were held when many communities were still shut down or social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mr. Zuckerberg did not endorse Joe Biden before the 2020 election, but quickly backed him as the winner of the election in November when there was still controversy and doubt about who would ultimately emerge as victorious.

Mr. Zuckerberg did not give a large donation to the same groups during the midterm elections in 2022.

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