A couple of lingerie and swimwear retailers say they’re feeling the heat from Instagram after the platform announced a policy designed to filter out posts that may be too hot to handle.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, had said in April that it had started working to reduce the amount of “sexually suggestive” and “inappropriate” sponsored content that might show up in users’ feeds, but how the company determines what is and isn’t “sexually suggestive” or “inappropriate” are unclear.
Lingerie brands including Playful Promises and Bluebella – both of which have hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers – are now saying they’ve seen significant drop in engagement since the policy was announced, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) reports.
"The new policy is penalizing perfectly good brands," Bluebella executive Eva Pascoe told WWD. "Instagram doesn’t have humans looking at the images and the algorithms cannot detect what’s provocative and what’s not."
Instagram new algorithm reportedly operates by Instagram’s already established Community Guidelines, the company claims, and merely limits certain “types of posts from being recommended on our Explore and hashtag pages,” but not from users’ feeds, if they happen to follow the accounts that posted them.
“For example, a sexually suggestive post will still appear in Feed if you follow the account that posts it, but this type of content may not appear for the broader community in Explore or hashtag pages.”
As Harper's Bazaar notes, however, this may directly affect the sales of smaller brands that rely on social media to attract new customers and followers.
Even still, Playful Promises founder and CEO Emma Parker says she’s seen her brand’s Instagram engagement cut in half. And, as she tells WWD, she’s been having difficulty getting Instagram to approve ads for Playful Promises or Wolf & Whistle, its sister brand.
In response to further clarification of what would be deemed inappropriate, a representative for Instagram shared a statement with Fox News explaining its “stricter” policies about its recommendations.
"Unlike Instagram's Feed, Explore and hashtags are places where we recommend content to people who have not yet chosen to follow it. We're working to ensure that the content we recommend is both safe and appropriate for our community, and that means we are stricter about what content is recommended to people on Explore and hashtag pages.
“This does not affect Instagram's feed, and we will continue to show you posts from accounts you have chosen to follow."