Instagram announced an increased commitment to “combatting misinformation” on Monday. The popular photo and video-sharing app is working with 45 third-party fact-checkers to flag false information and severely restrict its dissemination. These posts won’t appear in searches and will be obscured elsewhere.
Like its parent company Facebook, however, Instagram will exempt political ads from this scrutiny opening the door to an array of malicious practices.
Sweet — The steps Instagram is taking to prevent the spread of misinformation are elegant solutions to a growing problem. It will find inaccurate posts by using “a combination of feedback from our community and technology.” These posts are then reviewed by fact-checkers who will determine their truthfulness.
If labeled false or partly false, the posts are removed from the “Explore” page and hashtag searches. Across posts, profiles, messages, and stories — in addition to a prominent label — the posts will be hidden with an interstitial warning.
Users can tap on the image or video if they still want to view the post. Opening the labels will briefly explain in-app why the information is false, and external links to credible sources will be provided.
Instagram also plans to use image-matching technology to find similar posts within the app as well as on Facebook and vice versa. This combined effort can limit the whack-a-mole cadence of untruthful posts.
Sour — None of these delightful features will be applied to political ads. Towing the company line, Instagram will allow politicians to post their media freely and without fact-checking. Facebook is dragging Instagram out on a limb with it, despite the unrelenting backlash and contrasting efforts from Google and Twitter.