Instagram will begin surveying some of its users about their race and ethnicity in an effort to better serve historically marginalized communities, the platform said in a blog post on Thursday.

The optional survey will ask users what race they identify as, according to Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram.

In a video posted to his social media accounts, Mosseri said if the company is going to ensure the platform is equitable, it needs to understand how it’s working for its users.

“We know that groups that have been historically marginalized disproportionately contribute to creativity, toward pushing culture forward,” Mosseri said. “So it’s in our interest to make sure that Instagram is as great an experience as it can be for all communities, for all individuals, no matter how identify.”

The survey, which is optional to users who are asked to participate, will be hosted by YouGov, an international research group. Texas Southern University, University of Central Florida, Northeastern University and Oasis Labs will also partner with Instagram to assess the data from the survey. An aggregated assessment of the data will later be shared with Instagram, according to Instagram’s blog post.

In 2020, Instagram established an “Equity Team,” to address concerns from Black and POC creators on the platform and study algorithmic biases. That team also focuses on if Instagram is operating in a “fair” way to all users, Mosseri said. The new survey is a part of how the platform plans to achieve that goal, he added.

In its blog post, Instagram said that it needs to “collect and measure” demographic information, which includes information about race and ethnicity, to “better understand different experiences people may have on Instagram.”

The survey will be pushed to a select number of users in the United States starting on Thursday.

Mosseri also stressed that the platform will not link a survey to a person’s account and it will not change the way the respondent uses the app.

“[I]f you do share, we cannot your answer to the survey with your actual specific account on Instagram,” he said. “It will not limit your Instagram experience.”

Adam Mosseri
Adam Mosseri speaks onstage at the WIRED25 Summit in San Francisco on Nov. 8, 2019.Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for WIRED file

Earlier this year, Instagram announced other changes to better support Black and POC users, such as introducing a special tag for content creators to credit those who come up with content and trend ideas.

The changes come amid backlash to how the platform has historically treated its Black and POC users. For example, last year, the app came under fire after it introduced a “sensitive content” content filter that appeared to be negatively affecting Black users.

Instagram and its parent company Meta have also had to navigate backlash over updates to the social media app. In recent weeks, content creators have expressed their frustration over Instagram’s increased size of photos and videos, which have the intended effect of making the app a “full-screen” experience, like TikTok. Some have even threatened to leave the app over the change. 

On Tuesday. Mosseri said those changes were a “test,” but acknowledged Instagram was shifting toward becoming a more video-friendly platform.

Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter covering youth and internet culture for NBC News, based in New York.