Instagram’s hashtag searches gave Trump better treatment than Biden – ProWellTech
Instagram he apparently handled popular hashtag searches for the two presidential candidates differently, directing Joe Biden’s searches for often negative related hashtags without providing such suggestions in the corresponding searches related to President Trump.
A new report from the Tech Transparency Project details the strange behavior of the platform. In the report, the technical watchdog compared searches from 20 popular hashtags related to the Trump and Biden campaigns and found that related hashtag suggestions have been disabled for Trump-related searches, including #donaldtrump, #trump, #draintheswamp and # trump2020.
For searches for matching Biden hashtags like #Biden, # biden2020, #joementum and #teambiden, Instagram suggested a number of related hashtags in a list that was obviously algorithmically generated. While those related suggestions were a mixed bag, they included many critical Biden hashtags like #sleepyjoe, #neverbiden and even adjacent conspiratorial hashtags like # covid19isahoax and #georgesorosisevil.
Warned by Buzzfeed’s discrepancy, which first reported the discovery of the new technology transparency project, Instagram called “bug” problem.
“It’s not about politics” The Instagram communications team wrote in a combative response to Buzzfeed’s Ryan Mac on Twitter. Instagram also accused the reporter of cherry picking examples for adapting to a “sensational narrative”.
The Instagram team downplayed the candidate’s irregular search management, claiming that the same problem affected a number of other, much less consequential hashtags, including #menshair and #gumdisease. Instagram has now disabled its hashtag suggestion functionality across the board.
Trump’s status as current president may begin to explain the difference in treatment, but related hashtags have even been turned off for Trump’s campaign slogan #draintheswamp and #fucktrump. The feature has also been disabled for a handful of other political character hashtags including #obama, #tedcruz and #jaredkushner.
While it is not evident that the discrepancy was intentional on Instagram’s behalf, this particular research oddity of Trump friendly against the narrative that major social media sites are distorted against Republicans – a groundless refrain regularly undermined by lopsided success of right-oriented content on social platforms. And as we’ve seen over and over again, a company’s intentions have little to do with the unwanted consequences of algorithmic suggestions that make their products so sticky to begin with.