Instagram users can now report content that they believe is false, in a move to curb the spread of misinformation on the platform. The flagged content on Instagram will be reviewed by the same third-party checkers that Facebook uses to review fake news. The ultimate goal of Instagram is to train its AI, which should be able to spot misinformation without the need to rely on humans.
The flagged content will not be deleted, though it will be “downplayed”, as per Instagram spokesperson Stephanie Otway (via Poynter). Such content will not appear in Instagram’s Explore tab and hashtag search results. However, it may continue to show up in the feeds of people who follow the account. The option to flag content as fake has been added in the three-dot menu at the top right corner of Instagram posts.
Those who want to report such content can choose from “it’s inappropriate” option from the menu and then select “false information”. To reiterate, the flagged content will not be deleted from the platform. Instagram will not notify the creator either that their content has been flagged and that it will be downplayed like Facebook does.
As per a report by news agency Reuters, though Facebook has 54 fact-checking partners in 42 languages, Instagram’s false fact-checking programme is being rolled out only in the US as of now. Poynter reported that it should take around two weeks for the programme to reach everyone.
Instagram is one of the most successful products for Facebook with over one billion active users, but it is not alien to the fake news problem. An analysis conducted by New Knowledge reveals that Instagram will likely be a key battleground for Russian operatives allegedly trying to spread misinformation since the 2016 US elections given the engagement on Instagram outperformed Facebook.
Earlier this year, Instagram came under pressure for the issue of the spread of vaccine hoaxes on its platform, after which the company decided to no longer allow advertisements that include misinformation about vaccines. Previously, UK-based Full Fact, which is a third-party fact-checker for Facebook had said in its report for the company’s Third Party Fact Checking programme that it wants the programme extended to Instagram as well.