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A social mask, Instagram decided to hide posts that deal with politics and social issues.  The European Union is investigating the violations

A social mask, Instagram decided to hide posts that deal with politics and social issues. The European Union is investigating the violations

Instagram decided to block the content it handles Policy H Social issues. New rules, already active in United State As of March 25, it entered into force in Italy on Sunday, April 28.

The same restrictions were applied to another Meta Group platform, Threadsand will soon also be expanded to include Facebook – Meta is the multinational company founded by Mark Zuckerberg that controls the major social media (Instagram, Facebook, Threads) and messaging (Whatsapp, Messenger) platforms.

How does a social mask work? They’re on Instagram Different sections Through which content is distributed, each is managed by a different algorithm. Most of these sections serve to help us discover new content from profiles that we don’t know yet or haven’t connected with yet “He follows”. Then there’s the feed, which is our home page. This section shows partly content posted by profiles we have chosen to follow, and partly suggested content, taken from profiles we do not follow. As of April 28 on Instagram It is disabled by defaultFor all users, political and social posts are distributed in the Explore and Reels sections and in the suggested content portion of the feed. That is, in all sections dedicated to discovering new content. Posts made by profiles we follow They will continue to appear in our feed But less than before. This is because ranking algorithms (the ones that determine the order in which posts appear on our feed) will be affected Low number of likes, a direct result of the small number of accounts reached. The scale of change is large, but the new default situation was significant It is provided without requesting user consent And without notifying them via notification. Therefore, even if users officially retain the ability to deactivate the restriction, many of them are unlikely to do so.

What it means for those who teach themselves – As AGCOM emphasized in a report on information consumption, so are social networks Passive source of information. That is, users do not actively search for information, but rather delegate the search and selection of news to algorithms. Therefore, given the secrecy with which Instagram has implemented the new rules, it is likely that the majority of users will not notice the change. And if we consider that, according to Reuters, so are social networks The main source of information For 42% of Italians, ahead of news sites (28%) and print newspapers (16%), Zuckerberg’s choice has the features of a real earthquake in the information diet of millions of Italians.

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What it means for those providing the informationFor those who provide information like Il Fatto Quotidiano, it will be more difficult to access New users on social media It will be much more difficult to inform citizens about political scandals such as those of Sgarbi, Santancci and Gaspari. Instagram does not block A daily occurrence Or other newspapers to publish the news, but it is prohibited from distributing it to the public. Specifically, it prevents distribution to non-followers (those who have not yet followed our page), effectively preventing us from growing. To give the reader an idea of ​​what this entails, we’re sharing Il Fatto Quotidiano’s Instagram data for the last 90 days. Between February and April 2024, Fatou Quotidiano’s publications were distributed 94% for users who have not yet followed our work And who we discovered through the now closed sections. Among these non-followers, more than half a million decided to engage with our posts, demonstrating interest in the topic. With the new rules, all those non-followers will not be able to access our news. The same applies to all newspapers or other parties, such as associations and activists, who deal with political and social issues.

The problem of definition and the usual opacity of social media -What does Meta mean by “political content”? Above all, what right does he have to decide what is political and what is not? The company said in its announcement Mark Zuckerberg It is limited to talking about “political content, possibly related to topics such as laws, elections, or topics of a social nature.” instagram manager, Adam MosseriHe hinted that the blacklist would relate to so-called hard news (politics, foreign affairs, health, economics) and “social criticism.” Under pressure from The Washington Post, a Meta spokeswoman tried, with limited success, to better define what social topics are: “Social topics can include content that identifies a problem that affects people and is caused by the action or inaction of others, which may include issues such as international relations or Crime.” So it appears that Meta doesn’t even have a precise idea of ​​his own definition. Another company spokesperson admitted to CNN, “These global issues are complex and dynamic, so our definition will evolve over time.”

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Can Meta really ban politics from social media?We have become accustomed to thinking of social media as private multinational corporations that can handle both good and bad weather. In fact, this was the case until recently. But things have changed now.

In 2023, Digital Services Act (DSA)European Regulation of Online Platforms. The DSA has created a legal framework through which large online platforms (Meta, Google, Apple, TikTok, Microsoft, Amazon) are recognized as gatekeepers, that is, the de facto guardians of the ways to access information and services online. They are therefore responsible for safety and freedom online. DSA places a lot of emphasis on the importance of… Social platforms In the information ecosystem. It recognizes and states that these platforms “strongly influence online safety, the definition of debate and public opinion” and therefore requires them to prevent “negative, existing or anticipated impacts on the exercise of fundamental rights, in particular freedom of expression and information, including freedom and pluralism of the media, provided for.” stipulated in Article 11 of the Charter.Real or expected negative effects On democratic processes, civil debate, and electoral processes, as well as on public safety.” A meta-social lapse on political and social content It seems to conflict with freedom of expression and informationWith the formation of public opinion, media pluralism and democratic processes.

Even the methods by which the mask is applied appear to violate European regulations. In fact, the DSA prohibits the use Dark patterns, or “dark pathways,” which are defined as “practices that distort or substantially harm, intentionally or in fact, a service recipient’s ability to make independent and informed choices or decisions.” Furthermore, it condemns “design choices intended to guide the recipient toward actions that benefit the online platform provider.” In this sense, the post published by the Instagram manager last July reveals: Adam Mosseriwhere he explains it for Instagram The presence of political content brings more disadvantages than advantages In terms of image, monitoring and moderation efforts. Only legal action will tell us whether Instagram’s decision actually violates European regulations. Meanwhile, the suspects were rounded up European Commission Which opened proceedings against Meta for investigation Numerous suspected violations of the DSAwhich also includes new rules regarding political content.

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