Instagram’s sensitive-content screens seek to minimize engagement with negative content by blurring sensitive images and providing a warning. However, the very design of sensitive-content screens may elicit uncertainty/curiosity and prompt information-seeking behaviors: congruent with the information-gap hypothesis. To test this idea experimentally, we presented participants with screened negative images accompanied by a brief, detailed, or no content description, during a simulated Instagram task. Participants viewed screens one at a time and uncovered at their discretion. In line with our predictions, people uncovered screens irrespective of description type, but did so most often with no description. Most participants indicated that knowing what the sensitive content contained bolstered their ability to make an informed decision. These results have implications; information provided alongside sensitive-content screens can influence engagement and therefore should be considered as part of sensitive-content guidelines.
- sensitive-content screens
- negative content