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Instagram and Threads Pull The Plug On Political Content

Meta has announced changes to Facebook, Instagram and Threads that will limit political discourse as the Meta top dogs attempt to curb the toxicity that comes with heated politics chat by no longer recommending posts of a political nature to users.

Instagram

“We’re extending our existing approach to how we treat political content – we won’t proactively recommend content about politics on recommendation surfaces across Instagram and Threads. If you still want these posts recommended to you, you will have a control to see them.”

The changes apply to public accounts and where recommended content is shown such as Explore, Reels, In-Feed Recommendations and Suggested Users – although, if you still follow accounts that post political messages you will still see them.

According to Meta, the effort to remove some political messaging from feeds is in response to user feedback.

Less angry Feeds

Meta has already decided that Threads isn’t going to compete for X (Twitter) in the political discourse space. In October, Instagram head Adam Moseri said Threads wouldn’t ‘amplify’ news on the app, and this latest news shows just how determined Meta is to step back from the realm.

Unintended consequences

The one consequence that Meta doesn’t talk about during the announcement is how this will impact accounts that comment on government or public sector issues, as well as not-for-profit groups raising awareness of political issues.

These professional accounts could see reach throttled as they may see fewer posts (or none at all) recommended to users in areas like Explore. If account managers are concerned this may happen to them, it’s important to use Account Status to check their eligibility to be recommended. 

Instagram

“From Account Status, they can edit or remove recent posts, request a review if they disagree with our decision, or stop posting this type of content for a period of time, in order to be eligible to be recommended again.”

For accounts like this, the new changes could throttle reach and engagement so it’s important to make sure followers stay engaged and interested in each post.

What does this mean for Facebook?

Over on Facebook, the amount of political content shown in Feed, Reels, Watch, Groups You Should Join and Pages You May Like has been trimmed back and the same will apply to Instagram Explore, and In-Feed Recommendations (also on Threads) in the build-up to the U.S. 2024 elections. However, as mentioned up top, that only applies to areas where content is recommended to users

Meta

“We’ve shifted away from ranking political content in Facebook Feed based on engagement signals – such as how likely you are to comment on or share content – since we’ve found that they are not reliable indicators that the content is valuable to someone.”

How will Instagram now display political content for users?

If these changes aren’t for you, you can still decide if you want political content recommended to you. All you have to do is allow it within ‘suggested content’ settings on Instagram. However, it’s important to note that from now, it will be limited by default.

There are also customisation tools available to users from Feed Preferences, while providing direct feedback on a post by selecting Show more or Show less will train Meta’s AI by telling it what you want to see, and what you want to avoid.

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