Instagram’s Sneaky Move to Limit Political Content Outrages Users

Rafael Henrique/Getty Images
Rafael Henrique/Getty Images

Instagram users were blindsided by the platform’s sneaky rollout of a new content-filtering tool limiting political content—a setting the social-media giant made default for many accounts without ever directly informing users.

Outraged users took to X to express shock on Friday, accusing Instagram of actively censoring and suppressing political discussion in a year already rife with political tensions. “The timing of this feature is very suspicious to me,” one Instagram user wrote on X on Friday afternoon. Other social-media users expressed concern over Instagram’s decision in light of an upcoming and heavily consequential presidential election.

People across the political spectrum seemed to believe the change was meant to target their own views: Right-leaning users suggested Meta is attempting to filter “conservative speech only,” while left-leaning users suggested the company is looking to censor pro-Palestinian content related to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

The feature is hidden under content preferences in settings and doesn’t hide content from accounts that a user already follows. However, it limits suggested content deemed “likely to mention governments, elections, or social topics that affect a large group of people and/or society at large.”

Instagram quietly announced the rollout in a blog post on Feb. 9, which said the platform was changing its existing approach to political content and therefore “won’t proactively recommend content about politics on recommendation surfaces across Instagram and Threads.”

But that announcement was so soft, outraged users said Friday, that many people either missed it or wrote it off as a hoax—especially in an age of rampant misinformation.

“I totally missed this from Feb when Instagram automatically stopped recommending ‘political content’ for all users ... literally learned this in an instagram story that I assumed wasn’t real at first,” one user wrote on X.

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