Through social media platforms, marginalized communities get the opportunity to expand their social networks. However, with these platforms acting as echo chambers often reinforcing both positive and negative opinions, the existence of issues stemming from marginalization becomes as common in digital spaces as it is in non-digital ones. This suggests social media is possibly more toxic for those holding marginalized identities.
Because of the fact that marginalized communities use social media differently, they experience it differently as well. Now, social platforms like Instagram have started prioritising "extensive research to better understand the concerns raised by these communities," and consequently making enhancements to their products.
In order to understand different experiences people may have on Instagram, how its products affect different communities, and to make necessary changes to promote fairness, the social media giant will now ask people on Instagram in the United States to take part in an optional survey. This survey, hosted by YouGov, will allow people to share information such as race and ethnicity.
CEO YouGov, Stephan Shakespeare stated:
Our mission is to provide the most honest and accurate data through transparent, fully-permissioned interactions with consumers around the world. We are excited to use this capability to help Meta better understand the experiences different communities have and build more equitable products.
Instagram or its partner research institutions including Texas Southern University, University of Central Florida, Northeastern University, and Oasis Labs will only be able to access collected demographic information. This means that they cannot connect people or their accounts to their individual responses.
VP for Research and Innovation at Texas Southern University stated:
Texas Southern University is proud to join the Meta Civil Rights Team to be positioned at the intersection of technology and urban research. Our faculty and team members in TSU's Division of Research and Innovation, along with our other schools and colleges, will collaborate to ensure this partnership is a success to benefit communities of color.
Supplementary details on the latest initiative are as follows:
- Participating in the survey is not required. It is 100% optional.
- We will not tie your survey response back to you or any of your specific accounts. Your survey response is encrypted. Instagram and all Meta platforms, YouGov, Oasis, and the academic institutions do not have the ability to link your response back to your Instagram account.
- This will not limit the experiences that you have on Instagram, including impacting your reach or how people engage with your content in any way.
- With our method, individual survey responses cannot and will not be used in our ads system.
- This information will not be stored with partner institutions in perpetuity. Responses will be deleted by YouGov after 30 days and by Texas Southern University, University of Central Florida, Northeastern University, and Oasis Labs on request.