How Instagram is working to serve the underserved

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on September 11, 2020 Published on September 11, 2020

To new Equity Team to focus on creating fair and equitable products; disable accounts of users who make serious threats; fine-tune verification process

Instagram is reviewing ways in which the platform could be “underserving certain groups of people”.

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform recently detailed the steps that it is taking to ensure “fair and equitable” access for all on the platform.

Instagram Equity Team

One big way in which it is doing that is by creating a new product team called the Instagram Equity Team that will focus on “ better understanding and addressing bias” in Instagram’s product development and people’s experiences on the platform, the company said in an official release.

“The Equity team will focus on creating fair and equitable products. This includes working with Facebook’s Responsible AI team to ensure algorithmic fairness. In addition, they’ll create new features that respond to the needs of underserved communities,” the post read.

Instagram will also be hiring a new Director for Diversity and Inclusion.

Hate speech and harassment

The social media major also said that it had updated content policies on its platform to flag certain kinds of “implicit hate speech”. It will also disable the accounts of people who make serious threats, including rape threats, to other users along with protecting “involuntary public figures” often belonging to marginalised communities from harassment.

It is also cracking down on content from banned organisations including Qanon. It is expanding its comment warnings that ask users to reconsider before posting comments that may be considered offensive on Instagram Live.

Inclusive verification process

Apart from this, it is also adding new features to help creators and businesses. It has made changes to its verification process which relies highly on press coverage on a particular person before verification.

“An account must meet certain criteria before we verify it, including a degree of notability. We measure notability through press articles about the person applying for verification. We’ve now expanded our list of press sources we consider in the process to include more Black, LGBTQ+, and Latinx media,” Instagram said.

It has removed consideration of follower count from its automated process.

“While follower count was never a requirement to get verified through the in-app form (which anyone can apply for), we did have certain systems in place that prioritised accounts with high followings to help get through the tens of thousands of requests received every day. We’ve since removed this from the automated part of the process,” it said.

The platform also recently outlined in part its system for providing content recommendations to users in a bid to increase transparency.

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Published on September 11, 2020
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