Instagram gives users a little more power to see what they want – and not see what they have Do not do it wishes – in the content discovery hub. The company introduced a new switch called “Sensitive Content Control” on Tuesday that lets anyone screen posts that they think may be offensive, and hide them from the Explore tab.
The new feature appears in the settings menu and allows users to choose to allow more content that may be “outrageous or offensive”, restrict content or “restrict even more.” Phrasing is a bit strange, but it acknowledges that the company’s moderation work is not perfect, and it is at least realistic.
“You can think of sensitive content as posts that do not necessarily violate our rules, but that could potentially be disruptive to some people ̵
TechCrunch asked the company to expand what kind of posts were shown under each category, and whether human or algorithmic moderation determines what is sensitive, but received no response.
We also asked if the company has any plans to make separate switches for violence and sexual content, considering that many people who are comfortable with the latter may be less likely to see violence bubble up among the app’s makeup tutorials and influencer junkets.
On Instagram, “sensitive” content is a huge category for things it allows but does not want to be seen as a direct marketer. In its own guidelines for content they recommend, Instagram says that sexually explicit content such as “pictures of people in transparent clothing” is not eligible for the Explore tab. Instagram’s definition of sensitive content also includes dangerous forms of content such as “exaggerated health claims” and posts that promote weight loss supplements.
Instagram is notorious for over-polishing content that the platform considers to be sexual. A campaign by Black plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams successfully pushed the platform to relax one of the overly restrictive nudity rules last year.
Instagram contextualized the new content controls as part of a new attempt to give users more power to decide what appears in their feed. “We believe that people should be able to shape Instagram into the experience they want,” the company wrote in a blog post, noting that recent changes such as being able to disable comments also give users more choices.
While the company gives users more control over the algorithm in some small ways, it is also considering giving them less. Last month, Instagram began testing algorithmic suggestions mixed into the main feed, a design choice that would let the company inject the platform with even more of what they want you to see.