18.06 2020 14:07h

Does Instagram prioritize semi-nude images?'

Independent researchers found that Instagram's algorithm systematically boosts seminude pictures
Instagram, Instagram News, Social Media News
via Unsplash

Instagram appears to favor images which depict users in 'sexy' or scantily clad outfits and bumps those higher on users' feeds. according to a new report from Algorithm Watch.

Algorithm Watch, a research and advocacy organization focused on algorithmic decision-making, collected data from 26 volunteer Instagram users to see which pictures from a select group of 37 creators were placed highest in their main feeds.

The data was captured using a browser add-on which monitored feeds by automatically opening the Instagram homepage at regular intervals and analyzing the photos it saw there. Over the course of 15 months, 2,400 photos were analyzed.

"Posts that contained pictures of women in undergarment or bikini were 54% more likely to appear in the newsfeed of our volunteers. Posts containing pictures of bare-chested men were 28% more likely to be shown," the report said.

"Of the 2,400 photos that the content creators posted, 362 (21%) showed bare-chested men, or women in bikinis or underwear," Algorithm Watch said.

In contrast, photos featuring food or landscapes were 60 per cent less likely to be shown in the newsfeed, researchers said.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, quickly shot down the claims and issued a statement saying, "This research is flawed in a number of ways and shows a misunderstanding of how Instagram works.

"We rank posts in your feed based on content and accounts you have shown an interest in, not on arbitrary factors like the presence of swimwear."

While Instagram will possibly never allow any external agency to audit its algorithm (due to intellectual property laws) we can't say for certain whether this is for certain.

Will we ever crack the Instagram algorithm? 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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