How does collaboration support sexual health organisations to successfully navigate Meta’s content moderation policies?


  • Joanna Williams Swinburne University of Technology


Background: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual health organisations increasingly use social media platforms (particularly Instagram) to distribute sexual health content to young people. However, Meta’s content moderation policies severely restrict the distribution of ‘sexual’ content that is ‘sexual’, which restricts the ability of sexual health organisations to distribute content that reflects peoples’ lived experiences.

Aims: This study examines how sexual health organisations resist and creatively navigate Meta’s content moderation policies to ensure that their distributed content reaches young people.

Methods: This exploratory study involved semi-structured interviews with producers of best-practice digital sexual health promotion employed by 12 sexual health organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom. Interviews focused on understanding professional experiences of producing and distributing social media content. Themes were developed using abductive analysis.

Results: Many of the sexual health organisations collaborated with content creators and organisations, who hold similar values to that organisation. These relationships are used to distribute content to new networks, prioritise content within Instagram’s algorithm and share experiences of content moderation. Collaboration supports organisations to better understand the nuances of the algorithm and produce content that more effectively flies under the radar of content moderation.

Conclusions: While Meta’s content moderation policies restrict the type of sexual health content shared, sexual health organisations use collaboration to increase their visibility with young people on Instagram. These strategies can be used to increase the visibility of digital health content, that resonates with young people’s lived experiences, across a variety of social media platforms.





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