Black users of Instagram have been complaining about the social media tool’s verification and harassment policies. Now the company is finally looking into it.
In a statement, Instagram Head Adam Mosseri promised his company will address the lack of fairness when it comes to how the verification and harassment policies are applied to Black users. He also stated that Instagram will also look into how Black content is distributed on the photo-sharing app as well as algorithmic bias. This is all in an attempt to elevate Black voices as he is recognizing the “incredible movement happening around the world.”
“At the same time, we’re also hearing concern about whether we suppress Black voices and whether our products and policies treat everyone equally. The irony that we’re a platform that stands for elevating Black voices, but at the same time, Black people are often harassed, afraid of being ‘shadowbanned,’ and disagree with many content takedowns, is not lost on me. This is a moment when people around the world are rightfully demanding actions over words, and we owe the same to our community.”
2/ Addressing the feedback we get has always been an integral part of how we work, and has helped us build a better Instagram for everyone. We’re going to focus on four areas:
• Account verification
• Content distribution
• Algorithmic bias
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) June 15, 2020
Mosseri didn’t give any specifics but did state that “this work is going to take some time,” and will look at how “specific safety issues” are affecting Black users.
When it comes to getting that blue check on Instagram, it’s no secret how hard it is to make that happen. Mosseri promises to make the process more “inclusive” and that the company is “looking into our current verification criteria and will make changes to ensure it’s as inclusive as possible.” As of right now, you can “request” for verification through the app, but it’s pretty much useless because of how stringent the process is.
Instagram is following Twitter, who also announced that it will be bringing back its verification process with some much-needed improvements.
Last but certainly not least, Mosseri also touched on “shadowbanning.” A lot of Black creators have complained that the app discriminates against them by reducing the visibility of their posts. Instagram has long denied it happens and vows it will clarify how it selects content to appear on explore and hashtag pages.
“We’ll review how content is filtered on Explore and Hashtag pages to understand where there may be vulnerability to bias. On top of that, we need to be clearer about how decisions are made when it comes to how people’s posts get distributed. Over the years, we’ve heard these concerns sometimes described across social media as “shadowbanning” – filtering people without transparency and limiting their reach as a result. Soon we’ll be releasing more information about the types of content we avoid recommending on Explore and other places.”
We shall see if Instagram follows through.
Photo: SOPA Images / Getty