March 1, 2024

As the 2024 U.S. election nears, social media platforms are trying to avoid repeating their past mistakes: egregious missteps that helped spread misinformation and disinformation and fueled political ire and divide.

As a result of years of scrutiny over how these platforms handle political disinformation and and extremism, many have created a whole host of rules and regulations regarding political content on their sites. In November, for instance, Meta said it would force political advertisers to disclose when a Facebook or Instagram ad has been “digitally created or altered, including through the use of AI.”

More recently, on Friday, Instagram and Threads said in a blog post that it would no longer “proactively recommend political content from accounts you don’t follow.” The post acknowledges that users can still follow accounts that post political content and, if they still want to see political content in their recommendations, they’ll be able to manage that in a future rollout.

“These recommendations updates apply to public accounts and in places where we recommend content such as Explore, Reels, In-Feed Recommendations and Suggested Users – it doesn’t change how we show people content from accounts they choose to follow,” the social media giant wrote in a blog post. “If political content – potentially related to things like laws, elections, or social topics – 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.”

In a post on Threads detailing the change, Instagram Head Adam Mosseri said that the platform’s “goal is to preserve the ability for people to choose to interact with political content, while respecting each person’s appetite for it.” The changes will be rolling out slowly.

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Meta’s response to its impact on the political world is to attempt to make political posts less easily available, instead of arming the site with more content moderation. When Threads was first launched as a rival to X, Mosseri said that while “politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads,” the platform will not “do anything to encourage those verticals.”

It’s clear that Meta is focusing on creators and viral moments over news and political content.

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