Instagram has apologized after an algorithm repurposed a user’s screenshot of a rape threat she received as an advertisement for the platform.
Engadget reports that one of parent-company Facebook’s algorithms took an Instagram user’s screenshot of a threatening email she received used it to advertise the Instagram platform on Facebook.
Guardian journalist Olivia Solon posted a screenshot of an email she received to Instgram titled, “Olivia, you f*cking b*tch!!!” and which read, “I will rape you before I kill you, you filthy wh*re!” This screenshot was then reposted to Facebook with the title, “Olivia Solon and 155 other friends are using Instagram. See Olivia Solon’s photo and posts from friends on Instagram,” alongside an Instagram signup link.
Instagram is using one of my most "engaging" posts to advertise its service to others on Facebook 😂 pic.twitter.com/lyEBHQXMfa
— Olivia Solon (@oliviasolon) September 21, 2017
A spokesperson for Instagram apologized, saying, “We are sorry this happened – it’s not the experience we want someone to have.”
“This notification post was surfaced as part of an effort to encourage engagement on Instagram,” they explained. “Posts are generally received by a small percentage of a person’s Facebook friends.”