Instagram Users Report Reduced Reach on Posts About Israel-Hamas Conflict
In recent days, several Instagram users have voiced concerns over a noticeable drop in the reach of their posts related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
Meta, the parent company of Instagram, addressed these concerns on Monday (16 Oct), attributing the issue to a technical “bug.”
Users Share Their Experiences
Many of those affected by this unexpected drop in engagement took to alternative social media platforms to express their frustrations.
They shared screenshots as evidence, highlighting the stark difference in engagement numbers on their posts about the escalating war.
Azmat Khan, an investigative reporter, shared her personal experience on X (formerly Twitter). She stated, “After posting an Instagram story about the war in Gaza yesterday, my account was shadowbanned. Many colleagues and journalists friends have reported the same.”
Khan emphasized the gravity of the situation by adding, “It’s an extraordinary threat to the flow of information and credible journalism about an unprecedented war.”
So, what is shadow-banning?
Shadow-banning is a controversial tactic that’s allegedly employed by some social media platforms.
Essentially, it involves blocking or limiting the reach of a user’s content without their awareness. As a result, their posts or comments become invisible or less visible to other users.
This method can be particularly detrimental to users who rely on these platforms to disseminate information or share their perspectives.
The concept of shadow-banning has been a topic of political controversies; there have been instances where shadow-banning was allegedly used to suppress certain political views or content. This has raised concerns about freedom of speech and the potential misuse of power by social media giants.
In response to the recent concerns, Meta’s communications director, Andy Stone, released a statement on X.
He clarified that the reduced reach was not intentional or biased against any particular content. Instead, it was a result of a bug that affected the visibility of Stories that re-shared Reels and Feed posts.
Stone explained, “We identified a bug impacting all Stories that re-shared Reels and Feed posts, meaning they weren’t showing up properly in people’s Stories tray, leading to significantly reduced reach.”
Stone further emphasized that the bug was indiscriminate, affecting accounts “equally around the globe” and was unrelated to the content’s subject matter.
He assured users that the company addressed the issue promptly, stating, “we fixed it as quickly as possible.”
However, this isn’t the first instance where Meta has faced scrutiny over its handling of pro-Palestinian content.
In a previous incident in 2021, Instagram was criticized for deleting posts that discussed a potential eviction of Palestinians from an East Jerusalem neighborhood. At that time, the company cited technical errors as the reason behind the deletions.