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Instagram and Threads will now hide political content by default, making it harder to follow current affairs, important updates about government policies, voting rights, protests, and much more. If you’re the kind of person who prefers not to view political content on social media, you can stop reading right here. However, if you want to view posts on issues such as healthcare, your government’s stance on global conflicts, or the bills your local politicians are backing, then you should review Instagram’s settings. (Note: Instagram says that it’s only going to limit recommending political content from accounts that you don’t follow.)

How to stop Instagram from removing political content

The bigger issue is that algorithms created by corporations are controlling what you see on social media. You can, however, take the power back (mostly). On Instagram, that could mean preventing the service from limiting political content. To do this, open the Instagram app on your phone and tap the Profile icon in the bottom-right corner. Now, tap the three-lines button in the top-right corner and go to Content preferences. On this page, you should select Political content and pick Don’t limit on the next page. This setting impacts both Instagram and Threads (it’s not available in the Threads app).

The wording on this settings page is unclear about what Instagram defines as “political content.” The company says that political content is “potentially related to things like laws, elections, or social topics,” which is a vague definition at best. It adds that you won’t see political posts from public accounts in its Explore page, Instagram Reels, and suggested posts that show up in your feed.

How this change affects you

Instagram has been talking about distancing itself from news and political content for some time now, and this change cements its stance on the subject. The company says that if you follow political accounts on the service, you’ll be able to view their content on your feed, but that it won’t recommend these posts if you don’t follow the accounts.

This will affect certain accounts much more than others. If someone has been providing valuable information from a conflict zone, that could be hidden from a large number of people who’d benefit from seeing it. Over time, algorithms could easily hamper disaster-relief efforts in situations where there are funding requests for humanitarian aid, or for rescue operations. 

At the moment, it’s also unclear if this move will reduce the spread of politically motivated disinformation such as propaganda, anti-vaccine messages, or other types of unscientific rage-bait. 

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