Instagram users to be asked about their race and ethnicity

Instagram will begin to ask some of its US users about their race and ethnicity data to examine how different groups experience the platform, the company says in a blog post published today.

A random mixture of Instagram users will get a pop-up in the app that leads to a survey asking about their race and ethnicity, hosted by the research group YouGov. Answering the questions will be optional, and Instagram says responses “will not limit the experiences that you have on Instagram, including impacting your reach or how people engage with your content in any way.”

Instagram head Adam Mosseri in a video said that collecting the data will help the platform find ways to improve the app for its users.

“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,” Mosseri says.

After user responses are collected, the data will be de-identified, split, and stored across some research institutions, including Texas Southern University, University of Central Florida, Northeastern University, and Oasis Labs.

In the blog post, Instagram also says that individual responses will not be linked back to user accounts and will only get aggregated data from the partnering institutions.

“This information will allow us to better understand the experiences different communities have on Instagram, how our technology may impact different groups, and if there are changes we can make to promote fairness,” the blog reads.