In an effort to provide users with greater control over their experience, Meta is expanding its existing policy on political content recommendations across Instagram and Threads. This update, announced on February 9, 2024, aims to limit the visibility of political content from unfollowed accounts, including posts related to social issues, unless users explicitly opt-in to see it.
"Our primary objective is to empower users to choose their level of engagement with political content, while respecting individual preferences," stated Instagram head Adam Mosseri. This change, scheduled to roll out over the coming weeks, is expected to be mirrored on Facebook at a later date.
Users who wish to continue receiving recommendations for content "likely to mention governments, elections, or social topics affecting communities and broader society" can disable the new limitation within their account settings. This change will apply to public accounts and will only impact recommended content sections like Explore, Reels, in-feed suggestions, and user recommendations. Notably, it will not affect how users view content from accounts they follow, meaning ineligible accounts can still share political content with their followers through their feed and Stories.
Meta clarifies that for creators, "if an account is ineligible for recommendations, none of its content will be recommended, regardless of whether it adheres to our recommendations guidelines." When implemented, professional accounts on Instagram will be able to leverage the Account Status feature to assess if their political content is hindering their recommendation eligibility. Additionally, these accounts can utilize Account Status to challenge decisions impacting their eligibility, as well as edit, remove, or temporarily pause politically-related posts until recommendation eligibility is restored.
This update aligns with Meta's ongoing efforts to reduce its association with news and political discourse in recent years. Data from 2022 indicates that less than 3% of content viewed by Facebook users in the US is politically-related. Mosseri has previously emphasized that political content will not be promoted on Threads or Instagram due to the limited engagement it generates, along with the potential for increased scrutiny and negativity directed towards the platforms - a concern particularly relevant in the lead-up to the 2024 US presidential election.
By providing users with more control over their political content exposure, Meta aims to create a more personalized and positive experience across its platforms. This update aligns with the company's broader strategy of prioritizing user agency and fostering more positive online interactions.