Instagram Is Retooling Its Approach To Banning Accounts Amidst Free Speech Controversy

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Engadget reports that Instagram is working on new rules for banning accounts that are going to be rolled out “soon.” The move comes shortly after Twitter and Facebook came under fire for banning conservative figures like Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, and James Woods.

After the new rules are implemented, accounts will be banned after they accrue a certain amount of violations in a specific amount of time, although no specifics about the number of violations and timeframe length have been released.

As of now, Instagram allows “a certain percentage” of violations within a certain window of time. After this percentage is eclipsed, the company bans the account. But Instagram claims that this approach gives accounts with high posts more potential for violations. For example, an account that posts 400 times a day is allowed more violations than one that posts 100 times a day, and the new rule aims to fix that by holding all users to the same standard.

In related news, Instagram revealed just one day ago that it will be rolling out a feature within the app that allows users to appear appeal post takedowns following a report of a policy violation. Per Engadget, the feature will be implemented in the next few months. When appeals are requested, they will be sent to a different reviewer to provide an additional opinion to contrast with that of the person who made the initial decision.

Instagram’s focus on violation reports and appeals is likely due to the public outcry from conservative figures that claim they are being censored by social media, as The Inquisitr reported. These critics claim that while social media business like Twitter and Facebook consider themselves platforms — which have legal protection from prosecution based on opinions hosted on their services — they act like publishers by choosing what they do and don’t what on their services.

President Donald Trump added fuel to the fire when he made a tweet addressing his concerns with the recent wave of bans.

“I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America – and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH!”

Vox reports that Jillian York, an Electronic Freedom Foundation director, believes that as of now, social media platforms are failing to be transparent with their users.

“Given the concentrated power that a handful of social media platforms wield, those companies owe their users a clear explanation of their rules, clear notice to users when they violate those rules, and an opportunity to appeal decisions.”