Instagram's algorithm 'gives more priority' to these photos

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As per researchers, Instagram prioritises photos of scantily-clad men and women. About 2,400 photos, were anal...Read More

If you are on Instagram and would’ve noticed certain ‘hot’ photos of men or women in your Explore feed then don’t overthink about how they landed there. As per researchers, Instagram prioritises photos of scantily-clad men and women. According to a report by The Next Web, the investigation was conducted by European Data Journalism Network and AlgorithmWatch. The researchers asked 26 volunteers to install a browser add-on and follow a selection of professional content creators.
About 2,400 photos, were analysed and researchers found that of these posts, 362, or 21%, were recognised by a computer program as containing pictures showing women in bikinis or underwear, or bare chested men. “It is likely that Instagram’s algorithm favours nudity in general, but that personalisation, or other factors, limits this effect for some users,” said the researchers in a blog post.
The researchers did reach out to Facebook but didn’t get answers to specific questions. However, Facebook did issue and statement and termed the research as ‘flawed’. “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,” said the social media giant who owns Instagram.
On their part, the researchers say that they have “reasons to believe that our findings are representative of how Instagram generally operates.”
The researchers cited a patent filed by Facebook in 2015 where the engineers at the company said that when a user posts a picture, it is analysed automatically on the spot. Instagram gives pictures something called an ‘engagement metric’, which is used to decide whether or not to show an image in the user’s newsfeed.
This engagement metric is based on user’s browsing habits on Instagram. “If a user liked a specific brand and a photo shows a product of the same brand, the engagement metric increases,” the researchers explained. However, this engagement metric can also be computed based on past behaviour from all users of the service. “The patent specifically states that the gender, ethnicity and “state of undress” of people in a photo could be used to compute the engagement metric,” concluded the researchers.

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