Instagram will pay for celebrities’ video production for IGTV, but its contract stipulates the performers “must not include content about social issues, elections, or politics,” according to Bloomberg News. IGTV is Instagram’s answer to YouTube, and the clause sounds different from what parent company Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said about banning political ads.
“There’s a pretty big difference between allowing political speech and funding it directly,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, tweeted in response to the Bloomberg News article. He added that the platform “welcomes all points of view.”
The contract would prohibit creators from making content about social issues including civil rights, immigration, education, health, and guns, according to reporter Sarah Frier. IGTV isn’t Facebook’s only video service, and Facebook Watch has contracts with news companies that cover politics. Facebook has come under fire for its role in spreading fake news across its services, including WhatsApp. One of Zuckerberg’s arguments against breaking up the company is its size means it can more effectively combat the problem with more resources. Yet its policies vary from platform to platform, making oversight more difficult.
IGTV began in June 2018 and has small viewership compared to YouTube. One recent high-performing video, a clip of Billy on the Street with Chris Evans, had about 166,000 views. On YouTube, the number was over 1 million. “In the last few years, we’ve offset small production costs for video creators on our platforms and have put certain guidelines in place,” a Facebook spokesperson told Bloomberg News. Some creators will make as much as $250,000 for over 20 posts. Perhaps one reason IGTV hasn’t caught on (its stand-alone app has about 1,100 reviews in iTunes, versus Instagram’s 14 million) is that it wasn’t willing to pay creators at all in the beginning.
Though both Facebook and Mosseri have insisted that there’s a difference between allowing political speech and funding it, by paying for political ads, that’s exactly what the company does. In the past, Zuckerberg has said of Facebook: “ Do we ban ads about health care, immigration, or women’s empowerment?” It’s difficult to see how Facebook will justify policing these issues in one arena and not another — especially because these issues are not just political but are personal as well. Could creators make videos about a steep hospital bill, their immigrant families, or interactions with law enforcement, for example, or would they have to upload those to YouTube?
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