What is labeled state-controlled media on Instagram?

Instagram defines “state-controlled media” as media outlets that Instagram believes may be partially or wholly under the editorial control of their government, based on our own research and assessment against a set of criteria developed for this purpose. We hold these accounts to a higher standard of transparency because we believe they combine the influence of a media organization with the backing of a state.

Instagram seeks to identify these organizations by using our definition and standards to review the available information about their ownership, governance, sources of funding, and processes that may help to ensure editorial independence. As these organizations are identified, a label will appear under the About this Account section. Labels will be applied on a rolling basis to organizations globally when we determine that publishers meet our criteria, outlined below, which we use to assess the likelihood that they may be under the partial or whole editorial control of their government.

We appreciate that not all organizations will agree with Instagram’s assessment. Organizations that believe they are mislabeled can submit an appeal. This appeals form can only be viewed by the account owner.

Note: We do not consider public media organizations that are publicly financed, retain a public service mission, and demonstrate independent editorial control to be state-controlled media under our definition and will not apply the label to these organizations at this time.

How does Instagram seek to evaluate editorial control?

Instagram researches and assesses the information available to us regarding factors that may indicate editorial control by a government. These factors could include:

  • Mission statement, mandate, and/or public reporting on how the organization defines and accomplishes its journalistic mission
  • Ownership structures (example: disclosure of ownership structures such as information on owners, stakeholders, board members, management, government appointees in leadership positions, disclosure on direct or indirect ownership by entities or individuals holding elected office)
  • Editorial guidelines (example: transparency around its sources of content, independence and diversity of sources)
  • Information about newsroom leadership and staff
  • Sources of funding and revenue
  • Governance and accountability mechanisms (example: internal accountability mechanisms, correctional policies, procedure for complaints, external assessments and oversight boards, rules governing their composition and appointment procedures)

Instagram also considers country-specific factors, including press freedom, and references open source data, such as research conducted by academics and leading experts.

Instagram believes that governments may exert editorial control over state-controlled media in a range of ways and to different degrees. If Instagram believes that the evidence assessed suggests that editorial control by a government exists, we will label the organization unless we consider there is sufficient evidence of protections in place to ensure editorial independence.

An organization that is seeking to prove its editorial independence should be able to show evidence consistent with editorial independence. For example:

  • A statute in the host country that clearly protects the editorial independence of the organization
  • Established procedures, processes, and protections at the media organization to ensure the implementation of editorial independence
  • An assessment by an independent, credible, external organization finding that editorial independence is in fact maintained and that established procedures have been followed

If Instagram believes there is sufficient evidence of editorial independence, we will not label the organization.

How did Instagram come up with these definitions of state-controlled media?

Instagram came up with these definitions and standards for state-controlled media organizations after conducting extensive research and obtaining input from more than 65 experts around the world specializing in media, governance, human rights and development.

Some of the experts Instagram consulted include:

  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Center for International Media Assistance
  • European Journalism Center
  • Oxford Internet Institute
  • Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS) at the Central European University
  • The Council of Europe
  • UNESCO
  • Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  • African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME)
  • SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition
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