Feb 9, 2024 - Technology

First look: Meta won't recommend political content on Threads


Photo illustration by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Meta will not "proactively recommend political content from accounts you don't follow" on Threads, the company said in a statement provided to Axios.

Why it matters: The policies, which are the same it currently uses to regulate political content on its Facebook and Instagram apps, fill in the details of how Threads and Instagram will handle political content as the election approaches.

  • Threads leadership has previously said the platform did not want to encourage hard news or politics on its platform, but had not laid out the practical measures the company would take to achieve that goal.

How it works: Threads users will be allowed to follow accounts that post political content, but the algorithm that suggests content from users you don't follow will not recommend accounts that post about politics.

  • Users will have an option that allows them to opt into political recommendations — first on Threads and Instagram, then on Facebook, at an unspecified date.

Users who post political content can check their account status to see whether they've posted too much of it to be eligible for recommendation.

  • If they wish to be recommended, "they can edit or remove recent posts, request a review if they disagree with our decision, or stop posting this type of content for a period of time, in order to be eligible to be recommended again," Meta said.

Catch up quick: Meta launched Threads last summer as a rival to X, formerly Twitter. Meta allowed users to import their social connections from Instagram to their Threads accounts, helping to usher in heavy adoption quickly.

  • At the time, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said "The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter."
  • He noted that "politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads - they have on Instagram as well to some extent - but we're not going to do anything to encourage those verticals."

The big picture: Meta has made sweeping changes its Facebook and Instagram algorithms to focus more on elevating viral entertainment videos over polarizing news and politics content in the past few years.

  • Those efforts have come in response to pressure the tech giant has faced around the role its apps have played in spreading mis and disinformation ahead of the 2016 and 2020 elections.

What to watch: Meta says it will roll out the new policy slowly, "to get this right." The same policies will apply to Instagram.

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