Instagram has reportedly shifted its algorithm to favor news content after complaints from staff about Palestinian censorship

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FILE: Instagram

  • Instagram has changed its algorithm to prioritize current events and viral posts, according to the Financial Times.
  • A company spokesperson confirmed to Insider the change would happen “over time.”
  • Facebook, which owns Instagram, has faced criticism from pro-Palestinian activists in and outside the company.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Instagram has reportedly made adjustments to its algorithm in favor of news and viral content after internal and external concerns that users were not able to see pro-Palestinian content that was being shared on the app.

Two people with knowledge of the change told the Financial Times that Instagram has changed the way it prioritizes which Instagram Stories are shown first in users’ feeds. Previously, the company prioritized original content in stories over stories that featured content that was shared or reposted from other users.

The app will now rank both original and shared stories equally, sources told the Financial Times.

“Stories that re-share feed posts aren’t getting the reach people expect them to, and that’s not a good experience,” an Instagram spokesperson told Insider. “Over time, we’ll move to give equal weighting to re-shared posts as we do originally-produced stories.”

The company spokesperson said the existing algorithm had “caused people to believe we were suppressing stories about particular topics or points of view,” which the spokesperson said was untrue.

“This applied to any post that’s re-shared in stories, no matter what it’s about,” a spokesperson told Insider.

Earlier this month, Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas agreed to a cease-fire in recent violence, moving to end the bloodiest fighting the region has seen since 2014. At least 232 Palestinians were killed since the fighting began on May 10, including 65 children and 39 women, according to Reuters. Thousands of Palestinians were displaced. At least 12 people in Israel were also killed, including two children and a soldier.

Amid the conflict, BuzzFeed News reported a group of about 30 employees inside Facebook, the company that owns Instagram, had spoken out internally and filed internal appeals to restore pro-Palestinian content they believe had been unfairly removed by the company.

The group of concerned employees has grown to as many as 50, the Financial Times reported Sunday.

Earlier in May, Instagram faced criticism after it removed posts and blocked hashtags about al-Aqsa, a holy Islamic mosque, after it mistakenly labeled the location as being associated with a terrorist organization, BuzzFeed News also reported.

Also in May, Apple refused Facebook’s request to remove negative reviews left on the App Store after pro-Palestinian activists targeted the company with 1-star ratings amid their accusations of censorship, NBC News reported.

“We know there have been several issues that have impacted people’s ability to share on our apps,” a Facebook spokesperson previously told BuzzFeed News.

“While we have fixed them, they should never have happened in the first place and we’re sorry to anyone who felt they couldn’t bring attention to important events, or who felt this was a deliberate suppression of their voice. This was never our intention – nor do we ever want to silence a particular community or point of view,” he said.

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