Instagram accidentally activates setting to limit political content ahead of first Biden-Trump debate

Instagram accidentally changed users’ settings to limit political content automatically, even if those users had turned the option off, the company confirmed Wednesday.

Several Instagram users spoke out after noticing their settings had been changed to limit political content, an option created by parent company Meta in February, ahead of Thursday’s first 2024 debate between President Biden and former President Trump.

In a response to a post from Democratic strategist Keith Edwards on Threads, another Meta app, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said the resetting of users’ limits on political content was “an error and should not have happened,” and the company is working to get it fixed.

Meta announced the update to limit political content on Instagram and Threads in February.

The setting is meant to let users choose if they want to “limit political content” from users they don’t follow.

Tech advocacy group Accountable Tech urged Meta to give users and creators details about the error and how long the setting was affected. Nicole Gill, executive director and co-founder of Accountable Tech, underscored the potential impact of the error based on the timing of the presidential debate.

“In the middle of an election year and the day before the first Presidential Debate, Meta has just shown us all that with a flick of a switch, the company has the power to change algorithms and settings unbeknownst to users and creators with profound implications for the reach of content focused on political education, activism, and mobilization,” Gill said in a statement.

The presidential candidates will debate Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT in Atlanta, moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

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