Facebook is announcing a new setting that allows you to limit how much potentially sensitive content shows up in your Instagram Explore tab. According to Facebook, the new Sensitive Content Control setting will let you “see more or less of some types of sensitive content,” which may be “upsetting or offensive.” How much content the three levels, “Allow,” “Limit (Default),” and “Limit Even More” will or will not show is pretty vague, and we’ve reached out to Facebook for clarification.
On the support page for Sensitive Content Control, Instagram says that sensitive content could include sexually suggestive or violent posts, as well as posts that promote things like tobacco or pharmaceutical use. Facebook is clear that this setting is based on its Recommendation Guidelines, which govern what can show up on the Explore page, and not its Community Guidelines.
Posts that flat-out violate Facebook’s rules will still be removed, Sensitive Content Control just gives users more options about how much they want to be exposed to content that could be upsetting in the Explore tab. For example, Facebook says content showing a fight or people in see-through clothing may be considered “sensitive,” and therefore shouldn’t show up on the Explore page for people who have sensitive content limits. “Graphic” violence or nudity, however, would be taken off the site and wouldn’t show up even for those who have Sensitive Content Control set to “Allow.”
Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment on how much of a difference the setting makes to the amount of potentially sensitive content that’s shown to a user. The descriptions shown in Facebook’s screenshot of the feature, seen at the top of this article, are a bit vague, though — the Limit Even More setting doesn’t say that you won’t see sensitive content, just that you “may” see fewer posts that “could” be upsetting.
According to Facebook, the setting will be accessible by going to your profile, then tapping Settings > Account > Sensitive Content Control. The feature doesn’t seem to have rolled out to all users yet: the option didn’t appear for me or a few of my colleagues. Facebook says that the setting to allow sensitive content may not be available to people under 18 years old.
This announcement comes at a time when many social networks, especially photo and video sharing platforms, are trying to figure out how to deal with content that may be upsetting to some users but engaging for others. Last year, TikTok introduced warning screens for potentially graphic videos, and Pinterest recently announced a ban on weight loss ads. Instagram itself tries to blur out images that could be potentially triggering for people struggling with eating disorders, and provides resources to users searching for content related to disordered eating. Today’s announcement doesn’t seem to signal a drastic change for the Explore page, but it should give people a bit more control over what they see on it.
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