Instagram Sets up Equity Team To Address Biases in App

Also updating its harassment policies to create a safer space for users.

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Tech
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Noting the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as the upcoming elections, social media platform Instagram says that “More than ever, people are turning to the platform to raise awareness for the racial, civic and social causes they care about,” and so it has reviewed various aspects of the app in hopes of creating a safer user experience for everyone.

First up, Instagram has now set up an Equity Team, which it says “will focus on better understanding and addressing bias in our product development and people’s experiences on Instagram.” The new team will work alongside the Responsible AI team to make sure the app’s algorithm functions in a fair and equal manner, while developing new features that will increase representation for minority communities.

Aside from creating a new Equity Team, the social media platform has also reviewed its policies against online harassment. “We updated our policies to more specifically account for certain kinds of implicit hate speech, such as content depicting blackface, or stereotypes about Jewish people,” Instagram’s update note writes. “We also strengthened enforcements against people who make serious rape threats, and we’ll now disable any account that makes these threats as soon as we become aware of them, rather than just removing the content.” Beyond individual posts and content, the company also removed 23 different banned organizations, most of which it says were supporting white supremacy. Action will also be taken against organizations tied to violence, such as the infamous QAnon.

Finally, Instagram has reworked how various accounts become verified, hoping to make the process fairer for everyone. It now focuses on notability, which is measured through looking at press articles about the person applying, and to increase support for minority users, the company has expanded its list of press sources to include more Black, LGBTQ+, and Latinx media. It also said that its previous practice of focusing on follower count has now been removed.

For more tech-related news, Samsung’s new patents suggest see-through screens may be coming.

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