Creators say Meta shouldn’t curb ‘political content’ in policy change backlash

World News

Hundreds of content creators signed an open letter asking Meta to scrap a decision to curb the reach of “political content” on Instagram and Threads, amid concern the change could limit marginalised creators’ reach across the platforms.
Image: Getty
Key Takeaways
  • The letter, first reported on by the Washington Post, was organized by the groups Accountable Tech—a nonprofit that advocates for better regulation of Big Tech companies—and the LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD, and includes the handles of more than 200 accounts, including popular accounts like the @feminist account, with which has 6 million followers on Instagram.
  • The signatories argue the policy, announced in February, is “undermining the reach of our content online,” and is hurting efforts to “foster more inclusive and participatory democracy and society during a critical inflection point for our country.”
  • Forbes has contacted Meta for comment and did not immediately hear back—but Meta spokesperson Andy Stone told the Washington Post the change “expands on years of work on how we approach and treat political content based on what people have told us they wanted,” and Meta officials have previously suggested they believe Instagram and Threads should focus their content on other topics aside from politics or hard news.
  • With Meta’s definition of “political content” including “social topics,” creators are concerned the new policy could “limit the reach of individuals and organizations whose identities and/or advocacy have been rendered a ‘social topic’ in this country,” the letter states, singling out advocacy efforts on climate change, gun violence prevention and transgender rights.
  • The creators are calling for Meta to change the policy so that users could “opt-in” to limiting so-called political content, rather than by opting them out by default.
  • The decision comes as several affected accounts have been raising concern that the policy could affect the reach of news about LGBTQ+ issues, and have been providing instructions for followers to turn off the new settings.
How Has The Policy Changed?

In a February blog post, Instagram said it will no longer “proactively recommend content about politics” from accounts users don’t follow across Instagram or Threads. Users who still want recommended posts on political content will be able to access an option to turn off limits in their content preferences. The policy applies to public accounts, and doesn’t change how users will see content from accounts they actively follow. Professional accounts can see whether their content is eligible to be recommended, and can request reviews if they disagree.

Key Background

The open letter comes as content creators in recent weeks have been voicing concern about Meta’s new approach and also about how LGBTQ+ issues are treated across the tech giant’s platforms. Last month, GLAAD released a report detailing how anti-transgender posts proliferated across the platforms despite policies aimed at preventing them, as LGBTQ+ creators have said that their own content is being limited by the policy, according to the Washington Post. Some creators have raised concern about how “political content” is defined, with Instagram influencer Katie Grossbard telling NBC News last month: “This decision directly harms communities whose entire existence is political.”

Contra

Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s head, has suggested he doesn’t see Instagram or Threads as being a central place for politics, writing on Threads that while “politics and hard news are important,” using them as a revenue source “is not at all worth the scrutiny, negativity (let’s be honest) or integrity risks that come along with them.”

Big Number

16%. As the open letter points out, that’s the percentage of adults who say they regularly get news on Instagram, per a Pew Research Poll.

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