Meta’s crackdown on political content: What does it mean for campaigners and diversity online? 

By Sophie Bauer, digital campaigns & communications consultant  

A few weeks ago, it was revealed that Meta, the company behind social media giants Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, has been “quietly” cracking down on political content. Instagram users now need to manually opt-in to seeing politics-related posts in their main feed.  

This wasn’t a surprise to those of us in the social media industry, but a trend that has been sweeping across Meta’s platforms since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Anyone who has ever gone through the headache of using Meta’s Business Manager, especially in the context of running ads on political or social issues, will be all too familiar.  

For the other big platforms, restrictions are largely on paid content, with LinkedIn and TikTok outright prohibiting paid political ads. X, formerly known as Twitter, remains a confusing place, where organic and paid political content alike goes technically unrestricted. But if you don’t pay to verify your account, prepare to be disappointed with its reach and engagement.

How does depoliticising content online impact activists and communities in remote areas? 

The intention from companies is clear, even understandable to a degree – political content is not worth the risk of being sued. But what does it mean for activists and campaigners, who rely on these platforms to get their (inherently political) messages out?  

As someone who has been working at the digital end of civil society-led campaigns for a while, I find myself torn. On the one hand, it makes my job harder. On the other, it challenges me to be more creative, and find other, less black and white ways to “cut through” with the issues that matter. Call me naive, but I see it as a call to action to those of us to do better, be more creative and less polarising in our messaging and approach. The business-as-usual way of doing things simply won’t cut it anymore.  

One of the biggest concerns, though, is how this trend towards depoliticising content impacts activists and communities in remote areas, where Meta-owned platforms are still one of the main tools of choice. By and large, these individuals and groups are not attached to a formal organisation, nor do they usually have access to digital specialists to help navigate the ever-changing landscape and shifting algorithms. The risk is that powerful voices calling for more diversity and inclusion and the messages they carry become muffled, or don’t cut through at all.  

Is leaving social media platforms the answer? 

Quitting social media, just like quitting media work, is not an option.  

Organisations and platforms with the channels, budget and digital know-how have a duty to actively involve and provide a space for activists from marginalised and vulnerable communities and support them in getting their voices heard on social media and across media outlets alike.  This year’s decision to focus UNESCO World Press Freedom Day on climate is an invaluable opportunity to do just that.

On that occasion, MDI will host a panel with voices from local communities who are acting on climate. They will reflect on how the media on and offline contribute to sharing their needs and the challenges they face but also the solutions they have to protect our planet. 

Picture by Carolina Jaramillo on

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Media Diversity Institute.Any question or comment should be addressed to