Instagram introduced a selection of new tools this year, intended at assisting users in protecting their accounts against “harassment.”
However, the tool appears to be working to protect the Biden administration from some unwanted criticism. In response to President Biden’s handling of the Afghan evacuation, Instagram invoked a comment-censoring effort to protect him from “disrespectful” words.
Author and filmmaker Mike Cernovich was first to notice the censorship.
I was able to post Loser one way but not another way.
This is Instagram directly censoring criticism of the President of the United States via his official account. pic.twitter.com/qGkuHNvCnC
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) August 17, 2021
“We’re flagging comments that may be considered inappropriate or disrespectful,” Instagram told some users who tried to comment on President Biden’s posts.
During periods of increased attention, such as when something goes viral, Instagram developed capabilities for screening “abusive” direct message (DM) requests, as well as a mechanism for users to limit other individuals from publishing comments or sending DMs.
Another new feature was “Sensitive Content Control,” which allows users to control which content, including sexual content, firearms, and violence, will not appear on the users’ explore pages.
The reality is, Instagram is using these features even on accounts of official figures who are accountable to the public, preventing critical comments related to the Afghanistan issue from being posted.
Instagram warned users who attempted to post comments on the President’s posts of violating the platform’s “guidelines.”