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Instagram to begin asking US users for their race and ethnicity

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Instagram will soon be asking some US users for their race and ethnicity for research purposes, the company announced in a blog post published Thursday.

This information will help Instagram to study how different communities experience the app and make changes to promote fairness.

In the coming months, a random group of users will see a prompt that will lead to a survey asking for their race and ethnicity. The survey has been hosted by the international research group YouGov.

It is optional to answer the questions, said Instagram. The company assured that responses will not limit the experiences including impacting your reach or how people engage with your content.

Instagram Head Adam Mosseri said, “If we’re going to make sure that Instagram is fair and equitable as an experience, we need to understand how it is working for different communities.”

After the collection of responses, the data will be de-identified, split, and stored across several research institutions. These include Texas Southern University, University of Central Florida, Northeastern University, and Oasis Labs.

In the blog post, Instagram says users’ responses will not be linked back to their accounts. Moreover, the company will only get aggregated data from the partnering institutions. The responses will also not be used in Instagram’s ads system.

The sole purpose of the research is to better understand the concerns of marginalized communities. “If we don’t know people’s race or ethnicity, we’re limited in our ability to assess how our products impact different communities,” the post said.

Instagram wishes to use the analysis to make the platform an inclusive space.

In 2020, Instagram created an equity team to study its algorithms for racial prejudice. Last year, Meta said it was working on a way to measure “how people from marginalized communities experience Meta technologies.”

Civil rights groups and activists have urged social media platforms to assess how its systems affect people of color. There are multiple reports about how social media apps have allowed for discrimination.


About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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