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Instagram to Request Information on Ethnic Background

Instagram to Request Information on Ethnic Background

Tuesday, 2 August, 2022 - 07:30
Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of the Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. (Reuters)

Instagram will start asking some US users for their race and ethnicity to better understand how people from different communities are affected by the app, the Meta-owned company said, according to the German news agency.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said all responses will be encrypted and can't be connected to a person's account.

"It's in our interest to make sure Instagram is as great an experience as it can be for all communities," Mosseri said in a video posted on Twitter. "If we're going to make sure that Instagram is fair and equitable as an experience, we need to understand how it is working for different communities."

A random group of US users will be asked to participate in the survey. Instagram said participation in the survey is optional, and your responses won't limit your experience in the app. Once the surveys are complete, they will be sent to Instagram's research partners Texas Southern University, University of Central Florida, Northeastern University and Oasis Labs. These partners will then share an aggregated analysis of the data with Instagram.

"User responses are encrypted and split apart, with distributed algorithmic computations and data storages at different institutions, so no one can link survey responses to Instagram accounts," said Zhishan Guo, an assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Central Florida.

Instagram said these responses won't be used in its ad systems. Responses will be deleted by YouGov after 30 days, and Meta, Instagram's parent company, can request the aggregate data to be deleted from the research partners. Because survey responses aren't connected to a specific account, only Meta can request that the aggregate data to be deleted.

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