Theory: Threads & Instagram Sacrificing Politics For Business Reasons

Warning no politics religion drama zone

Apparently @mosseri@threads.net announcement that Threads & Instagram will suppress political content across their respective platforms by default is making political gurus very unhappy.

If you follow political accounts on Threads or Instagram, we want to avoid getting between you and their content. That said, we also don't want to proactively amplify political content from accounts you don't follow. To that end, we're extending our existing approach to how we avoid recommending political content to additional surfaces. (Mosseri on Threads)

Over the next few weeks we will be improving how we avoid recommending content about politics on recommendation surfaces — like Explore, Reels, and Suggested Users — across both Instagram and Threads. If you want political recommendations, you will have a control to opt into getting them. (Mosseri on Threads)

These recommendations updates apply to public accounts and only in places where we recommend content. They don't change how we show people content from accounts they choose to follow. If political content is posted by an account that is not eligible to be recommended, that account's content can still reach their followers in Feed and Stories. (Mosseri on Threads)

Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to choose to interact with political content, while respecting each person's appetite for it. (Mosseri on Threads)

It might appear odd why both Threads & Instagram are forgoing the promotion of politics, especially with numerous democratic republics electing heads of state & representatives in various legislatures around the world in 2024.

However, the answer may be for business reasons, as advertisers might be less likely to spend money on controversial topics (like politics or social issues).

The fear of upsetting potential consumers en mass is already affecting advertisers in the Super Bowl, & it would not be surprising if the same fear is influencing social networks as well.

While some commercials that run in CBS' Feb. 11 broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII may shock or surprise, most will aim to comfort or amuse, as marketers pull back on pushing the envelope. [...]

“Advertisers are very aware that things can go wrong at the Super Bowl,” says Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, who has studied Super Bowl commercials with his students for years. Thanks to social media, he says, marketers realize that any ad can “manage to annoy people or cause backlash. Nobody wants to put their career on the line with a certain piece of Super Bowl footage. There is a huge incentive to be cautious.” (Variety)

Meta (for better or worse) is attempting to prevent Threads & Instagram from becoming a haven for hot topics, which would attract the attention of the masses, but ultimately at the expense of advertisers (the latter who are Meta's real customers).

Note: Ironically, Meta minimizing politics has renewed interest in Mastodon on Threads, as the former reflects the desires of its actual users & is not beholden to corporate advertisers. We could witness another wave of users signing up for decentralized ActivityPub platforms soonish.

Image Credit: No Politics Religion Drama Metal Tin Sign Novelty Plate on Amazon

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