Instagram is seeking to improve its understanding of how people from marginalized communities use the app and what challenges they may or may not face, via a new survey, in collaboration with YouGov, which will prompt some users to answer a question optional on their ethnicity.
As you can see in these sample screens, some users will be asked to provide information about their race/ethnicity, which will then give Instagram more data on how people in each segment of the community use Instagram. application.
As Instagram explains:
“when we created the Equity team, we wanted to understand how people from historically marginalized communities experience Instagram. For two years we prioritized extensive research to better understand the concerns raised by these communities, and we have made important Improvements in our some products Therefore. However, if we don’t know people’s race or ethnicity, we are limited in our ability to assess the impact of our products on different communities.
As a result, Instagram is now looking for more data, for which it needs users to provide more information.
Which, given that it’s Meta, some will no doubt be a little leery of providing.
Instagram further clarifies that the data is collected by YouGov, independently of Meta itself, through ‘individual and depersonalized responses”
“[Responses] are collected by YouGov, encrypted and divided into parts to be stored at partner research institutions. Instagram will only have access to aggregated information, which means we cannot connect people or their Instagram accounts to their individual responses.
Academic institutions also participating in the survey include Texas Southern University, University of Central Florida, Northeastern University and Oasis Labs who will receive all anonymized responses from YouGov.
Which seems completely normal – but again, Meta has shared sensitive information with academic organizations in the past, which then led to abuse.
The difference in this case, unlike the Cambridge Analytica incident, is that the data is anonymised, encrypted – it’s basically flushed through more privacy filters to make sure it can be linked to the Instagram identity of a real person. Meta also notes that participation in the survey is not required, and will be not limit the experiences you have on Instagram, “including impacting your reach or how people interact with your content in any way.”
“This information will not be kept in perpetuity with the partner institutions. Responses will be deleted by YouGov after 30 days and by Texas Southern University, University of Central Florida, Northeastern University and Oasis Labs upon request.
Collecting this additional information makes sense – Instagram can only know the full extent of its initiatives if it understands the user experience from different angles. But as you can tell from the various qualifiers and explanations, he’s also very aware that users may not be willing to trust him at this point.
Nevertheless, it could be beneficial, and the additional security measures should provide enough safeguards to prevent possible abuse.
The new prompts will be introduced to US users starting today.