Instagram Vows to "Better Support the Black Community" With Plan to Reevaluate Practices

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri publicly shared a plan for how the company will take "a harder look at how our product impacts communities differently."

By Samantha Schnurr Jun 16, 2020 3:52 PMTags
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Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, Instagram is looking inward. 

In a public statement titled "Ensuring Black Voices are Heard," head of Instagram Adam Mosseri shared a public plan outlining how the company will take "a harder look at how our product impacts communities differently" as they aim "to better support the Black community within our own organization, as well as on our platform."

"In the last few weeks," he began his statement, "we've seen an incredible movement happening around the world. As these important conversations have come to our platform, we've seen communities on Instagram mobilizing to demand justice and express solidarity, support Black-owned businesses, elevate Black voices, and raise awareness for the equality of Black people everywhere."

As Mosseri acknowledged, "At the same time, we're also hearing concern about whether we suppress Black voices and whether our products and policies treat everyone equally. The irony that we're a platform that stands for elevating Black voices, but at the same time Black people are often harassed, afraid of being 'shadowbanned,' and disagree with many content takedowns, is not lost on me. This is a moment when people around the world are rightfully demanding actions over words, and we owe the same to our community."

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"It starts with accounting for the experiences and challenges that underrepresented groups, such as our Black community, face when they use Instagram," he continued. "We've done a lot of work to better understand the impact our platform has on different groups, and that's helped us get to where we are today. But I think there's more to do across some key areas, which fit into our broader company commitments. We need to better support the Black community within our own organization, as well as on our platform."

The statement addressed four different components—harassment, account verification, distribution and algorithmic base—and how they plan to address or improve such elements to ensure inclusivity, acknowledge and prevent potential bias, increase transparency and combat safety issues. 

Among the listed points, Mosseri said they are "looking into our current verification criteria and will make changes to ensure it's as inclusive as possible." He also said they will "review how content is filtered on Explore and Hashtag pages to understand where there may be vulnerability to bias" and will be "releasing more information about the types of content we avoid recommending on Explore and other places."

 

"This work is going to take some time," he continued, "but we're going to provide updates over the next few months—both about what we learn and what we address. These efforts won't stop with the disparities people may experience solely on the basis of race; we're also going to look at how we can better serve other underrepresented groups that use our product. In the last year alone the feedback we've received from communities like LGBTQ+ groups, body positivity activists, and artists has helped us build a more inclusive product."

As Mosseri concluded, "Our goal is that Instagram is a place where everyone feels safe, supported, and free to express themselves, and I'm hoping this work will get us closer to that goal."

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