Instagram denies claims it suppressed pro-Palestinian messages

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Instagram denies claims it suppressed pro-Palestinian messages

Social media giant which is owned by Facebook admitted its system had a 'bigger impact than expected' on some original content compared to re-shared posts

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Instagram (Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash)
Instagram (Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash)

Instagram has dismissed claims that it has been suppressing pro-Palestinian messages during the recent conflict with Israel in Gaza.

The social media platform revealed that up until now the app had  favoured original content in its “stories” feature over existing re-shared posts from users.

But this meant that during the recent conflict re-shared messages in support of either Israel or the Palestinians received less prominence than original posts.

Instagram says that in the future it will now give equal treatment to both original content and reshared posts.

The company, which is owned by Facebook,  admitted the current system had a “bigger impact than expected” on some types of posts.

It added that  this was an unintended side-effect rather than an attempt to censor any particular viewpoint.

A company spokeswoman said the logic for prioritising original posts was that most Instagram users had more stories to follow than time to check them – and the company believed people were “more interested in original stories from their closest friends”.

“It’s also caused people to believe we were suppressing stories about particular topics or points of view. We want to be really clear – this isn’t the case,” she said.

“This applied to any post that’s re-shared in stories, no matter what it’s about.”In recent weeks users and employees at the social media giant had questioned how Facebook handled posts about the Gaza conflict on its own site and on apps it owns such as Instagram. The Financial Times reported how a group of up to 50 employees had been involved in raising concerns about supposed suppression of pro-Palestinian content.

Instagram say the shift towards equal weighting of original posts and re-shared stories will happen over time, rather than being instant.

“We still think people want to see more original stories, so we’re looking at other ways to focus stories on original content through things like new creative tools,” it told the BBC.

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