Meta faces backlash for recommending less political content

  • February 12, 2024

The company aims to reduce the amount of political content recommended to users, but some have noted that various topics have an overlap with politics.

Meta is planning some changes around how it shares political content, by not recommending this material to users of Instagram and Threads.

The upcoming changes aim to reduce the amount of political content these platforms show their users on sections such as Explore, Reels, and Suggested Users. Meta’s head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said users will be able to “opt in” if they still want political recommendations.

“Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to choose to interact with political content, while respecting each person’s appetite for it,” Mosseri said on Threads. “These recommendations updates apply to public accounts and only in places where we recommend content.

“They don’t change how we show people content from accounts they choose to follow. If political content is posted by an account that is not eligible to be recommended, that account’s content can still reach their followers in Feed and Stories.”

Various Threads users commented negatively on Mosseri’s post. Some critics called the move an attempt to “throttle” political content, while others took issue with the decision being made ahead of an election year in the US.

Others have asked for clarification on what qualifies as “political content”, with one user saying that discussions on vaccines, human rights and the climate crisis can “overlap” with politics.

The decision to create a distance from political content isn’t too surprising when it comes to Threads, as it has advertised itself as an alternative to social media platforms like X – which is known for more aggressive, emotional conversations around various political topics.

Mosseri previously said that the goal of Threads was to create a place for those that are “interested in a less angry place for conversations” than X.

“Politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads – they have on Instagram as well to some extent – but we’re not going to do anything to encourage those verticals,” Mosseri said.

Threads gained a massive following in users when it launched last year, with some users claiming they saw it as an alternative to X. But the platform has struggled to find an identity since then, which contributed to its steep decline in user activity months after its launch.

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