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Meta’s new setting shadow bans politics on Instagram and Threads

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Meta’s executives have been saying for a while that they don’t want to boost posts about politics in their apps. Now, an opt-out setting that limits recommendations of “political content” has been added to Instagram and Threads.

You can find it under your “Content preferences” account settings in Instagram. From there, “Limit political content from people you don’t follow” is enabled by default. The setting applies to Threads as well since that app shares its account system with Instagram.

Meta has framed this new setting as being good for user choice, and the company says it isn’t limiting the reach of political content from accounts people choose to follow. While the change was first announced in early February, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone confirmed to The Verge that it began widely rolling out last week. As of Monday, the company hasn’t sent any in-app notifications alerting people to the setting and the fact that it’s on by default.

Where to find Meta’s new setting for limiting the visibility of politics on Instagram and Threads.
Alex Heath / The Verge

If you talk to people at Meta about why they’ve soured on recommending politics, you’ll usually hear that they believe most people don’t want to see it put in their feeds. Last year, however, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri was more direct about the company’s motivation in a conversation with me on Threads.

“Politics and hard news are important, I don’t want to imply otherwise,” he said at the time. “But my take is, from a platform’s perspective, any incremental engagement or revenue they might drive is not at all worth the scrutiny, negativity (let’s be honest), or integrity risks that come along with them.”

So, there you have it: Meta doesn’t want the blowback that comes from its role in actively surfacing political content, which it defines as posts about “governments,” “elections,” and “social topics” — an ambiguous term that is likely intended to give lots of wiggle room for what can be included in this policy. If you don’t want Meta making these calls about what it recommends to you, it’s time to change your settings.

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