Instagram Updates Its Efforts to Bring Equity to Its Products and Platform

Head Adam Mosseri put plans in motion in June

Instagram is seeking to hire a director for diversity and inclusion Anastasia_Prish/iStock
Headshot of David Cohen

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri shared a progress update on the steps he promised in June to ensure that Black voices are not suppressed on the platform.

A dedicated product group, the Instagram Equity team, was created to focus on better understanding and addressing bias in product development on the platform, as well as users’ experiences.

\Mosseri said the team will focus on creating fair and equitable products, working with parent company Facebook’s responsible artificial intelligence team, and it will create new features to respond to the needs of underserved communities.

Instagram is also seeking to hire a director for diversity and inclusion to advance its goals of finding, keeping and growing more diverse talent among its ranks.

On efforts to combat harassment and hate, Mosseri said Instagram’s policies have been updated to more specifically account for certain kinds of implicit hate speech, such as content depicting blackface or stereotypes about Jewish people.

Enforcement against people who make serious rape threats on the platform has been stepped up, and Mosseri said accounts that engage in such activity will be disabled as soon as they are discovered, rather than just removing the content.

Instagram will also take steps to protect involuntary public figures, or people who find themselves in the public eye due to events out of their control, many of whom are members of marginalized communities.

Mosseri also pointed to Facebook’s removal of 4.7 million pieces of content connected to organized hate groups in the first quarter of the year, as well as its actions against QAnon last month.

For creators and businesses on its platform, Instagram enabled those accounts to manage who can send them Instagram Direct messages, and it expanded its warnings to people about to post potentially offensive comments to Instagram Live videos.

Mosseri said Instagram spent the past two months reviewing its verification practices and, while it will not make its specific criteria public in order to avoid bad actors trying to game the system, accounts must have “a degree of notability” to be considered, measured via press articles about the applicant.

He added that more Black, Latinx and LGBTQ+ media outlets have been added to its list of press sources.

Mosseri wrote, “While follower count was never a requirement to get verified through the in-app form (which anyone can apply for), we did have certain systems in place that prioritized accounts with high followings to help get through the tens of thousands of requests received every day. We’ve since removed this from the automated part of the process.”

Finally, Instagram sought to provide transparency on how it determines the types of content that can appear in places such as its Explore tab by publishing those guidelines, which Mosseri said were formulated after consultation with over 50 experts in recommendation systems, social computing, freedom of expression, safety and civil and digital rights.

Mosseri concluded by sharing links to open roles on Instagram’s policy and product teams and writing, “As I said in my first post, this work will take time, but it’s important to do and to take the time to get right.”

Don't miss the Disability Inclusion Summit, a live virtual summit on Sept. 30. Hear from leaders with disabilities on how we can better welcome, involve, and advance people with disabilities. Register now. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.