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Instagram posts with 'scantily clad' women are 54% more likely to appear on newsfeeds, report says

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Instagram posts featuring ‘scantily clad’ women are 54 PERCENT more likely to appear at the top of a user’s newsfeed, according to a report that says the firm’s algorithm boosts semi-nude images

  • A non-profit that investigates algorithm decision-making looked into Instagram 
  • The team found that semi-nude photos from creators appear to be boosted
  •  Women in underwear or bikinis are 54 percent more likely to appear
  • Whereas bare chested men were 28 percent more likely to appear.
  •  Posts showing food or landscapes were 60 percent less likely to pop up in feeds

A new report suggests Instagram boosts ‘scantily-clad’ photos on users’ newsfeeds.

Algorithm Watch, a non-profit that aims to shed light on algorithm decision-making, found that women in underwear or bikinis are 54 percent more likely to appear and bare-chested men are 28 percent more likely.

The team also discovered that pictures showing food or landscapes were 60 percent less likely to pop up in feeds.

The report suggests that the occurrence of the images could be that the users engage more with these type of posts or it could be Instagram’s way of encouraging influencers to share more semi-nude photos.

Algorithm Watch , a non-profit that aims to shed light on algorithm decision-making, found that women in underwear or bikinis are 54 percent more likely to appear and bare-chested men are 28 percent more likely. Picture is a post from Anastasia Karanikolaou

Algorithm Watch , a non-profit that aims to shed light on algorithm decision-making, found that women in underwear or bikinis are 54 percent more likely to appear and bare-chested men are 28 percent more likely. Picture is a post from Anastasia Karanikolaou

A Facebook spokesperson told DailyMail.com in an email: ‘This research is flawed in a number of ways and shows a misunderstanding of how Instagram works.’

‘We rank posts in your Feed based on content and accounts you have shown an interest in, not on arbitrary factors like the presence of swimwear.’

Algorithm Watch asked 26 volunteers to download a browser add-on that automatically opens their Instagram at regular intervals and records which posts appear at the top of their newsfeeds.

Researchers also asked them to monitor which photos from 37 creators were placed the highest on their feeds.

Algorithm Watch asked 26 volunteers to download a browser add-on that automatically opens their Instagram at regular intervals and records which posts appear at the top of their newsfeeds

Algorithm Watch asked 26 volunteers to download a browser add-on that automatically opens their Instagram at regular intervals and records which posts appear at the top of their newsfeeds

The report suggests that the occurrence of the images could be that the users engage more with these type of posts (pictured is Elle Macpherson)

Or it could be Instagram's way of encouraging influencers to share more semi-nude photos (pictured is Cardi B)

The report suggests that the occurrence of the images could be that the users engage more with these type of posts or it could be Instagram’s way of encouraging influencers to share more semi-nude photos

The experiment was conducted from February to May 2020 and analyzed more than 2,400 photos.

‘If Instagram were not meddling with the algorithm, the diversity of posts in the newsfeed of users should match the diversity of the posts by the content creators they follow,’ Algorithm Watch shared in a blog post.

‘And if Instagram personalized the newsfeed of each user according to their personal tastes, the diversity of posts in their newsfeeds should be skewed in a different way for each user.

‘This is not what we found.’

Over the three months, 362, or 21 percent, of the images from the 37 influencers showed them semi-naked – bare-chest men and women in underwear or swimwear.

And these specific images made up 30 percent of the total posts shared on these accounts.

The team also found that pictures of women wearing the scandily clad clothing were 54 percent more likely to appear in the volunteer’s feed, whereas half naked men were 28 percent more likely.

The team also found that pictures of women wearing the scandily clad clothing were 54 percent more likely to appear in the volunteer's feed, whereas half naked men were 28 percent more likely. (Pictured is an images shared by Jason Momoa on his Instagram page)

The team also found that pictures of women wearing the scandily clad clothing were 54 percent more likely to appear in the volunteer’s feed, whereas half naked men were 28 percent more likely. (Pictured is an images shared by Jason Momoa on his Instagram page)

By contrast, posts showing pictures of food or landscape were about 60% less likely to be shown in the newsfeed. 

Instagram has stated in the past that its algorithm organizes posts on what a users ‘cares more about,’ the firm’s patent notes that it ranks images on what it thinks the user wants to see.

‘Whether or not users see the pictures posted by the accounts they follow depends not only on their past behavior, but also on what Instagram believes is most engaging for other users of the platform,’ explained Algorithm Watch.

In Instagram’s guidelines, it states that nudity is ‘not allowed’ on the platform, but allows images that show skin to stay.  

‘The subtle difference between what is encouraged and what is forbidden is decided by unaudited, and likely biased, computer vision algorithms,’ reads the Algorithm Watch blog post.

‘Every time they post a picture, content creators must thread this very fine line between revealing enough to reach their followers but not revealing so much that they get booted off the platform.’

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