Instagram’s Sensitive Content Control feature, which places a customizable filter on content recommended by the platform, now applies to more areas on Instagram. In a post on his blogInstagram says it’s extending the institution’s impact beyond the Explore page to include recommendations everywhere it makes, including in your feed, search, hashtag pages, roles, and accounts you might follow.
While you can always choose from three toggles that vary in how much sensitive content Instagram filters out, Instagram is renaming those existing options. Instead of ‘Allow’, ‘Restrict’, and ‘Restrict even more’, Instagram now calls the levels ‘More’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Less’. Instagram sets accounts to Standard by default, which allows you to see “some sensitive content” across the platform. Choosing ‘More’ shows the most sensitive content, while ‘Less’ is the most restrictive option of the three.
Instagram’s Sensitive Content Control switch faced pushback when the platform first rolled out last year, with some users in the arts, cannabis, sex and tattoo industries claiming the feature filters out their work. At the time, an Instagram spokesperson told The edge that creators need not worry about the change, noting that Instagram has already filtered sensitive content. The spokesperson said the feature could increase visibility for some creators, at least among users who choose to allow more sensitive content through the filter.
Now that it’s expanding to include more parts of Instagram like Reels and the recommendations in your feed, creators concerned about filtering have even more reason to wonder what the algorithm is doing.
As we continue to give people more choice and control over their Instagram experience, we’re expanding sensitive content management to cover the content you see in all the places we connect people with new things. https://t.co/neie9bruyj
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) June 6, 2022
Instagram says the new labels should help explain what each option does, but they’re still frustratingly vague. The platform defines sensitive content as “topics that some people don’t want to see, such as violence or drugs”, but provides a more detailed description on the support page: Sexually explicit or suggestive content and messages promoting tobacco or vapor products, as well as content showing or promoting cosmetic procedures are also included.
Even with new names, the options still apply as a comprehensive filter for all kinds of sensitive content. It doesn’t address situations where, for example, a user is okay with being naked, but doesn’t want to see something like firearms or tobacco (or vice versa). If Instagram made the filters more specific, people would have a better idea of the possible effect of their choices.
But setting the Sensitive Content Control feature to More doesn’t mean Instagram will show you all kinds of wild content. Instagram still deletes posts that conflict with its recommendations and Community Guidance† The stated purpose of the sensitive content switch is to add control over the visibility of posts that don’t necessarily break Instagram’s rules, but may be upsetting to some users.