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Instagram’s sensitive content filters are changing

You can now choose from More, Standard, or Less

Image: Instagram

Instagram’s Sensitive Content Control feature, which puts an adjustable filter on content recommended by the platform, now applies to more areas on Instagram. In a post on its blog, Instagram says it’s expanding the setting’s impact beyond the Explore page to include anywhere it makes recommendations, including in your feed, search, hashtag pages, Reels, and Accounts You Might Follow.

While you could always choose from three toggles that vary in how much sensitive content Instagram filters out, Instagram is renaming those existing options. Instead of “Allow,” “Limit,” and “Limit Even More,” Instagram’s now calling the tiers “More,” “Standard,” and “Less.” Instagram will set accounts on Standard by default, which will allow you to see “some sensitive content” across the platform. Choosing “More” will show you the most sensitive content while “Less” is the most limiting option of the three.

Instagram’s Sensitive Content Control toggle faced pushback when the platform first rolled it out last year, with some users in the art, cannabis, sex, and tattoo industries claiming that the feature filters out their work. At the time, an Instagram spokesperson told The Verge that creators shouldn’t worry about the change, noting that Instagram already filtered sensitive content. The spokesperson said that the feature may actually increase some creators’ visibility, at least among the users who opt to allow more sensitive content through the filter.

Now that it’s expanding to include more areas of Instagram, like Reels and the recommendations in your feed, creators concerned about filtering will have even more of a reason to wonder what the algorithm is doing.

Instagram says the new labels are to help explain what each option does, but they’re still frustratingly vague. The platform defines sensitive content as “topics some people don’t want to see, such as violence or drugs” but offers a more detailed description on its support page: sexually explicit or suggestive content and posts that promote tobacco or vaping products as well as content that shows or promotes cosmetic procedures are also included.

Even with new names, the options still apply as a catch-all filter for sensitive content of all kinds. It doesn’t address situations in which one user might be okay with nudity, for example, but doesn’t want to see something like firearms or tobacco (or vice versa). If Instagram made the filters more specific, then people would have a better idea about the potential effect of their choices.

But, if you set your Sensitive Content Control feature to More, that doesn’t mean Instagram will show you all sorts of wild content. Instagram still removes posts that violate its recommendations and Community Guidelines. The sensitive content toggle’s stated goal is to add control over the visibility of posts that don’t necessarily break Instagram’s rules but may be upsetting to some users.