Instagram is updating its sensitive content filters

Instagram has extended its Sensitive Content Control feature, which applies a filter to content that is recommended by the platform, to even more areas of its service. According to an announcement on Instagram's blog, the setting will affect recommendations in your feed, search, hashtag pages, Reels, and Accounts You Might Follow in addition to the Explore page.

Previously, you had the option to select from three toggles that varied in the level of sensitive content Instagram filtered out. Instagram is renaming those existing options. Instagram has renamed its tiers from 'Allow,' 'Limit,' and 'Limit Even More' to 'More,' 'Standard,' and 'Less.'

By default, all Instagram accounts will be set to Standard, which will allow you to see 'some sensitive content' across the platform. Choosing 'More' will display the most sensitive content while selecting 'Less' will display the least sensitive content available.  

As Instagram rolled out its Sensitive Content Control feature last year, some users in the art, cannabis, sex, and tattoo industries complained that it filtered out their content. A spokesperson for Instagram told The Verge at the time that creators shouldn't worry about the changes, since Instagram already filters sensitive content.

As a result, some creators may actually gain more visibility, at least among users who choose to let more sensitive content pass through the filter. Creators concerned about filtering will have a bigger reason to wonder what the algorithm does now that it's expanded to include Reels and recommendations in your feed.

Instagram claims the new labels will assist the user with understanding what each option does, but the labels are still frustratingly vague. On its support page, the platform provides a more detailed description of sensitive content: sexually explicit or suggestive content, posts that promote tobacco or vaping products, and cosmetic procedure content are all included.

The platform defines sensitive content as “topics some people don’t want to see, such as violence or drugs.” The options still apply to the sensitive content of any kind, even with new names. This does not address situations in which one user might be okay with nudity but not wish to see things such as firearms or tobacco (or vice versa).

If Instagram made the filter options more detailed, then people would have a better understanding of how their choices may affect their photos.

The Sensitive Content Control feature is set to More by default, but it does not imply that Instagram will show you random content. In fact, Instagram continues to remove posts that violate its guidelines and recommendations.

The goal of the sensitive content toggle is to make posts less visible when they may offend some users even if they don't necessarily break Instagram's guidelines.

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