Instagram is rolling out an update that expands its sensitive content filter in ways that may reduce how many people see some content.

Though the Sensitive Content Control was launched almost a year ago, in July 2021, the tool only influenced the type of content users saw in their Explore feed.

According to a new announcement, though, the newly updated version of this tool lets users control how much “sensitive content” they see across practically every section of Instagram including:

  • Search
  • Reels
  • Accounts You Might Follow
  • Hashtag Pages
  • In-Feed Recommendations
  • How Instagram is Controlling Sensitive Content

As the company explained, this does more than limit obviously inappropriate content, including graphic violence or illegal acts. It also covers “posts that don’t necessarily break our rules, but could potentially be upsetting to some people.”

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Content showing violence, including fighting between individuals
  • Sexually explicit or suggestive content, such as people in see-through or revealing clothing
  • Content promoting controversial or dangerous products such as tobacco, vaping, adult products, or pharmaceutical drugs
  • Content promoting or showing cosmetic procedures
  • Content or pages which sell products or services targeting health, including weight-loss supplements

Following the new update, users can select between three different levels of sensitive content moderation:

  • Less: Restricts sensitive content to the greatest amount
  • Standard: The default state for all users, which automatically limits some sensitive content
  • More: Users over the age of 18 can opt-in to see the widest range of content, including sensitive content which does not directly violate Instagram’s rules and guidelines.

Why This Matters

While most upstanding brands are normally unaffected by these types of updates, this could potentially have a much wider effect on companies or pages across a huge range of industries. 

The undefined nature of what constitutes “sensitive content” raises eyebrows, especially when it includes some content many users may not find controversial or objectionable. Additionally, users are having some content filtered out by default and must essentially opt out of this tool if they are of age. 

This creates the potential for Instagram to start limiting the reach of content from many companies who had previously found success using the platform to reach their audience. How large the impact of this is yet to be seen. If you see a significant drop in the number of people seeing your Instagram posts in the next few weeks though, you probably know why.

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