An Instagram bug affected the algorithm and simultaneously blocked any negative Trump-related hashtags, but failed to do that for Joe Biden, the social media site confirmed.
An investigation from the Tech Transparency Project has revealed that since at least June, searches for Biden-related content, have returned hashtags with counter-messaging, while Trump-related content showed no hashtags at all.
Since then, Instagram has disabled its ‘related hashtags’ feature due to a “technical error.” A second investigation done by Buzzfeed further revealed that until recently, if a user were to search “#JoeBiden” on Instagram, results for #trump2020landslide and #democratsdestroyamerica would appear. A second search for #DonaldTrump revealed no related hashtags.
Katie Paul, a director of the Tech Transparency Project, told Buzzfeed that the suppression of related hashtags “removes any possibility that negative hashtags could be associated with [Trump’] name or campaign slogans.”
An Instagram spokesperson said the buy also affected tens of thousands of nonpolitical hashtags and “appears to have impacted both parties.” She died note though that some Trump hashtags such as #trumppence2020 and #votetrump reflected related tags, but the “#democrats” did not. #Trump, which evidently did not display related hashtags, has more than 14 million posts and counting.
While the Biden campaign declined to comment, Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the Trump campaign, denied that the Instagram algorithm has a pro-Trump bias. He also expressed unfounded claims that Silicon Valley companies are staffed by “the extreme left.”