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Will Instagram start speaking Catalan soon?

Nationalism in the digital age: Catalans demand from Instagram to include their language

Nationalism in the digital age: Catalans demand from Instagram to include their language

Languages with fewer speakers are available on the platform, as the argument goes

An online petition on the platform Change.org is gathering speed with a demand for Instagram to include the Catalan language among its interface communication options. The argument behind the petition is two-fold but it mainly stresses the fact that the omission of the language from one of the most popular social media apps in the world represents an “anomaly and discriminatory treatment of Catalan-speaking users”.

The reasoning presented by user Apps en Catalá (who started the petition) points out that there are glaring discrepancies when it comes to the regional language´s presence in the digital world, which do not always make sense.

Among them is the fact that of the 42 languages available on Instagram, 6 have fewer speakers than Catalan, such as Slovak and Danish.

Catalan youth may feel excluded from the digital world

The petition also presents the story of the inclusion of Catalan to other apps owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), namely Facebook and WhatsApp.

Facebook, and here we refer to the social media platform itself, does have an option to display its interface content in Catalan. Even though the company has also owned Instagram for about ten years now, it has not taken steps to implement the same for the latter app.

Likewise, Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 and users can also configure it to display its content in Catalan. What happens is that although one’s phone might be configured to choose that language Instagram doesn’t recognize it and defaults to English instead.

The petition also recalls that this is not the first appeal to Instagram’s management board to take corrective steps after the Language Platform formally requested a similar change in 2019.

In conclusion, the petition claims that since social media is a key part of youth interactions in the contemporary world, it represents an “impediment” for the Catalan language to spread and popularize among the youth. Its exclusion, in other words, makes it seem as if it is not fit for the modern realities.

The conclusion is a clear reference to the popular adage that if one doesn’t exist on social media, then one doesn’t exist at all. It is also yet another chapter in the Catalan people's efforts to affirm their place in the digital sphere.

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