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How Does Instagram Moderate Potentially Harmful Content?

Instagram has its benefits. It allows users to connect with important people in their lives through posts and DMS. Also, it allows them to discover products – clothing and beauty products, especially – and share their passions. However, it is not all sunshine and rainbows on Instagram or any social media platform. They can affect users negatively.

Social media addiction is no joke. People scroll mindlessly, even if what they see ruins their moods. And the longer they do that, the more it affects their mental health.

How Does Instagram Moderate Potentially Harmful Content?

Government officials want to make social media companies more accountable for what happens because of their platforms. And with that pressure, these companies are forced to improve their Community Guidelines.

Meta, Instagram's parent company, is the company that's always on the hot seat. Last year, leaked internal documents pointed out that the company prioritizes profits over users' well-being. And research points out that Instagram is among the platforms that affect teens' mental health the most. That is the downside of being a photo and aesthetic-focused platform. Users can't help but compare themselves with others.

That said, it is not surprising that Instagram continuously improves its rules regarding removing harmful content on the platform.

Changes in the Instagram Feed

Earlier this year, Instagram announced changes coming to the Feed. They wrote in the blog post that they have committed to being more transparent about how the platform works. That's why they gave people more information about features like Ranking and Search. But they did not decide this on their own.

Instagram released that information after influencers on the platform accused them of “shadowbanning.” That got nasty. So, to avoid a repeat of what happened, Instagram now plans to clarify things before an issue arises.

So, Instagram provided updates on the changes they made on the home feed. 

As with any other online platform, Instagram removes posts violating Community Guidelines. This year, Instagram decided to be even more strict. It is punishing posts that may contain bullying, hate speech, or encouragement of violence. The platform can't remove these, for they don't really violate the Guidelines for some reason. But it now shows them lower in the Feed and Stories. So, if users don't scroll down that much, there's a significantly lower chance of seeing these.

Aside from that, Instagram will also lower potentially upsetting posts on the Feed. It will determine that based on your reporting habits. So, if you see things you don't like, flag them with the appropriate categories. That way, you can train the algorithm not to show you content that may upset you.

The last bullet on Instagram's blog is not about a change but a reminder. It says that these changes affect individual posts rather than accounts. They also made it clear that they inform people when they take down content.

How Does Instagram Moderate Potentially Harmful Content?

That move is obviously for addressing the “shadowbanning” issue. With these changes, people may once again speculate that Instagram is not recommending all their posts to anyone. 

How Instagram Addresses Potentially Harmful Content

Instagram says it is always trying to show its users content from the account they engage with and has value to them. At the same time, they reduce the chances of encountering content that can make them feel unsafe.

So, Instagram has permanently removed content violating its Community Guidelines. On top of that, the company uses its Recommendation Guidelines to determine what content to show to a user. By using these guidelines, Instagram avoids making recommendations that may be low-quality, objectionable, sensitive, or age-inappropriate. 

Before this update, Instagram showed content lower in the Feed and Stories if they contained misinformation. The platform works with independent fact-checkers to determine whether or not a post indeed contains misinformation. That ensures that Instagram is not randomly throwing darts. And content from a creator that repeatedly violated this will also appear lower in the Feed or Stories.

This update takes that effort even further. As mentioned above, Instagram has also started deboosting content, possibly containing bullying, hate speech, or inciting violence. Of course, Instagram needs signals to determine whether a post fits this description. Instagram checks if a caption is similar to one that previously broke the rules.

So, to make this feature effective, users need to report every rule-violating content they see on the platform.

Instagram says that they are improving its systems as much as it can. The company's target is to remove harmful content on Instagram while making its enforcement as accurate as possible.

Your Reporting Habits Affecting Your Tweet

In the blog post, Instagram said that it shows posts from people you follow, ads, and their recommendations in your Feed, fueling the desire for people to buy real Instagram followers even more. It ranks those posts based on how likely it thinks you are to interact with the said post. The company said these signals help them connect you with the content you want to see the most.

But that's outdated. Anyone who frequents Instagram now knows what's really happening. The top of your Feed consists of some posts from people you follow and mostly suggested Reels and posts, and ads. It would be best to switch to Following or Favorites mode to get rid of those.

But let's ignore that and focus on the good thing. Instagram added one more signal to use to decide if they should put content lower on your Feed or Stories(or not). That signal is your reporting habits.

How Does Instagram Moderate Potentially Harmful Content?

Instagram looks at your history of reporting content. The platform then predicts if you will report a post through artificial intelligence. If the answer is yes, Instagram will attempt to hide it from you by placing it lower in your Feed or Stories.


This Instagram update proves that, contrary to what controversies say, they still value the well-being of their users. But whether the platform only added these changes to impress the regulators or not, their addition is still much appreciated. Hopefully, we will see more features like this because safety should always be a priority.

Date: December 7, 2022 / Categories: Uncategorized, / Author: Rich Drees


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