Instagram will begin asking users about their race and ethnicity

Instagram will begin asking select US users for race and ethnicity data in order to investigate how various groups interact with the platform, the company said today in a blog post.

A random sample of Instagram users will see a pop-up in the app that directs them to a poll hosted by the research firm YouGov asking for their race and ethnicity. Answering the questions is optional, and Instagram states that replies “will not restrict your Instagram experiences, including influencing your reach or how others connect with your post in any way.”

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said in a video message broadcast today that gathering the data would help the platform search for ways to enhance Instagram for users.

Following the collection of user replies, the data will be de-identified, divided, and kept at a number of academic institutions, including Texas Southern University, the University of Central Florida, Northeastern University, and Oasis Labs. Individual comments will not be connected back to user accounts, according to Instagram’s blog post, and the firm will only get aggregated data from the cooperating universities.