The Restriction of Political Content on Instagram and Threads: A Detriment to Democracy

The Restriction of Political Content on Instagram and Threads: A Detriment to Democracy

Meta’s Instagram and Threads apps are making a change to no longer recommend political content by default. This means that users will not see any political content in their feeds, stories, or other recommended places unless they choose to opt back in. Users who follow accounts that post political content will still see such content in the normal, algorithmically sorted ways.

This change signifies Meta’s retreat from politics and challenges the notion that these platforms are beneficial for democracy. It is also likely to discourage content creators from engaging politically.

Meta has had a problematic relationship with politics since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. The increased polarization of politics, the spread of misinformation online, and the preference for social media over policy have all contributed to this issue.

In Australia, where many young people rely on Instagram for news, the change will result in a lack of political news recommendations by default. Combined with Meta’s decision to no longer pay for Australian news on their platforms, it appears that Meta is aiming to be as apolitical as possible.

While Meta positions Threads as a potential new town square, the absence of politics raises concerns about the lack of political engagement and news consumption among young people. Content creators are also affected by this change, as their accounts may no longer be recommended if they post political content. This creates a chilling effect and discourages creators from discussing political issues.

To opt back in and receive political content recommendations on Instagram and Threads, users can access their settings, click on Suggested Content or Content Preferences, and select “Don’t limit political content from people that you don’t follow.”

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