A Meta ‘error’ broke the political content filter on Threads and Instagram

Instagram’s toggle for political content was resetting every time the app closed.

Earlier this year, Meta made the controversial decision to automatically limit political content from users’ recommendations in Threads and Instagram by default. The company said that it didn’t want to “proactively amplify” political posts and that users could opt-in via their Instagram settings if they did want to see such content.

But, it turns out, that Meta continued to limit political content even for users who had opted in to seeing it. An unspecified “error” apparently caused the “political content” toggle — already buried several layers deep into Instagram's settings menu — to revert back to the “limit” setting each time the app closed. Political content, according to Meta, “is likely to mention governments, elections, or social topics that affect a group of people and/or society at large.”

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The issue was flagged by Threads users, including Democratic strategist Keith Edwards, and confirmed by Engadget. It’s unclear how long the “error” was affecting users’ recommendations. “This was an error and should not have happened,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone wrote on Threads. “We're working on getting it fixed.” Meta didn’t respond to questions about how long the setting had not been working properly.

The issue is likely to raise questions about Meta’s stance on political content. Though Threads is often compared to X, the company has taken an aggressive stance on content moderation, limiting the visibility of political content and outright blocking “potentially sensitive” topics, including anything related to COVID-19, from search results.

Stone later confirmed that the supposed bug had been fixed. "Earlier today, we identified an error in which people's selections in the Instagram political content settings tool mistakenly appeared to have reset even though no change had actually been made," he wrote on Threads. "The issue has now been fixed and we encourage people to check and make sure their settings reflect their preferences."

Update June 26, 2024, 8:04 Pm ET: Added additional comments from Meta spokesperson Andy Stone.