It seems that the American reality TV star Kylie Jenner is well aware of this reality, which was shown by the recent publication of a photo of herself in swimsuits inviting her 197 million followers to register their names on the electoral lists before the upcoming US presidential election.
But do the algorithms adopted in the social network encourage this path to promote the content posted on it?
The answer to this question appears in the affirmative, according to an investigation published by the Algorithm Watch in June. Nicholas Kaiser-Brill and Judith Duportay, co-authors of the study, confirmed via Mediapart, that “our results allow confirmation that the image of a woman in underwear or bathing suits appears 60% more than her pictures with all her clothes. This percentage is 30% for men.
To achieve this result, the researchers analyzed 1,737 posts on 37 Instagram accounts, followed by 26 volunteers, who uploaded to Internet surfers a tool that allows you to count the times that each picture appears.
In 2016, Instagram stopped providing images according to chronological order, and the application’s algorithms choose the order of appearance in line with users’ preferences, according to criteria that remain vague.
According to the study’s authors, this may be based on the “level of nudity” that the service attributes to each photo at the time of publication.
The authors of the study referred to a patent filed in 2011 by “Facebook” (which bought “Instagram” the following year), to protect the network by automatically detecting the degree of nudity in each image through specific color bands.
However, a spokeswoman for “Instagram” commented in response to a question by Agence France-Presse on this study, saying that it is “completely biased.”
She added, “Algorithms analyze the time users spend on certain types of content and the degree of interaction with them, to determine display priorities” that suit each user, but “there is no patent (linked to a tool) to determine the degree of nudity, this is nonsense.”
The spokesperson explained that the users ’recorded impression of seeing a lot of similar pictures, that is, those that involve nudity, is due to the users habits, who can change them by “searching for other types of pictures”.
Too much decency
Social networks are constantly facing accusations of entrenching prevailing social patterns by adapting them to a maximum extent the content provided to users, while studies in this regard often collide with the lack of data provided by electronic platforms to support these conclusions.
The issue is of particular importance to “Instagram” in light of the economic responsibility that the application bears in terms of the revenues it provides to influencers through its service (through the revenues that brands provide to them according to the number of their followers), and also from the social perspective because it sets specific standards in terms of appearance for its users. Over a billion.
And paradoxically, “Instagram” is facing in parallel accusations of adopting standards of excessive decency, with criticisms that extend especially to the lack of objectivity in the application of the rules on nudity.
These rules especially prohibit posts that “clearly focus on the back” of people or those that display “bare women’s breasts”. However, in several cases, Instagram has blocked photos of naked women showing chunky bodies before re-showing them.
This is what happened early this year, when the network withdrew pictures published by Internet users carrying the cover of the French “Telerama” magazine on discrimination against obese people.
The magazine wrote at the time: “The algorithms of Facebook and Instagram and their sisters do not favor nudity, even when the pictures are not pornographic. A picture (the DJ on the cover) of Leslie Barbara Butch does not show any sexual organs or naked breasts, but it shows a large area of skin. It seems that this space is greater than what social networks allow. ”
“Instagram” denies practicing any “censorship on a certain type of person,” according to the spokeswoman, who says: “We may make mistakes, either by algorithms or by people.” But “we do not take into account the percentage of nudity” shown in the photos to apply the criteria, “this is a misconception.”
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