In a blog post on Monday, Instagram announced that it is expanding its fact-checking system globally. With this expansion, third-party fact-checkers will review potential information published by Instagram users around the world. In order to reduce the spread of this misinformation, Instagram is using warning labels on flagged images.
Easily acquired photo-editing software like Photoshop has made it possible to fabricate images and use them as ‘proof’ for fake stories. These images can be found across all social media platforms; they may include subtle edits like an airplane added to the image of a skyline or more obvious edits like a shark in a swimming pool.
Rather than removing flagged images, which may raise concerns over censorship, Instagram is using warning labels to alert users who view the images. The initial warning label reads, ‘False information,’ followed by, ‘Reviewed by independent fact-checkers.’ Users have the option of tapping a link that will provide an explanation about why the image was flagged as false or tapping through to view the post.
When viewing the post, users will still see a bright red warning label that reads, ‘See why fact-checkers say this is false.’ Tapping the link takes the user to assessments made by the fact-checkers, as well as their conclusions about the image. Users still have the option of sharing flagged posts.
Accounts that repeatedly post flagged content will be removed from the hashtag and Explore pages in order to reduce their reach on the platform. Users retain the ability to manually report posts as ‘false information’ using the feedback option Instagram introduced earlier this year.
The expansion arrives amid growing concerns over the role Instagram may have in the spreading of disinformation during the 2020 election. The company says it will now automatically label identical content as misinformation if it was first rated as partly false or false on Facebook, a platform heavily criticized over its facilitation of fake news.
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