Instagram is reported to have a user base of more than one billion monthly active users, making it the third most popular social media network worldwide.
The popularity of Instagram is not just validated by some robust statistics but is something that can be practically felt among the youth today. Not only this, 55% of daily news known by millennials comes via this popular photo-sharing app.
However, it is rightly said, “With great power comes great responsibilities”.
With the increase in the number of ‘influencers’, ‘campaigns’, ‘social media activists’ and ‘online protests’ on Instagram, the impact in the real world brought alone by this application is cautionary. A huge number of active user base makes Instagram an easy catch to fall for a ‘viral hoax’.
Evidently, in recent times, Instagram has become a hub in spreading misleading information and manipulating individuals into believing false news. The parent company Facebook acknowledged the concern and came up with a solution.
Instagram’s Chief Adam Mosseri mentioned in a tweet, “I’m proud that, starting today, people can let us know if they see posts on Instagram they believe may be false. There’s still more to do to stop the spread of misinformation, more to come.”
We're just still playing catch up. On Facebook we started by focusing on links and articles because that's where we saw the most issues, and have since expanded to images and video. Most of the work to reduce misinfo on Instagram is done by that same team.
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) October 17, 2019
It is said that Facebook will be rolling in a new feature to Instagram that checks for the spread of false information.
What Made The Company Take Such A Step?
According to the CNN Business news, Instagram users can now flag misinformation and the new feature will be made available by the end of this month.
This step was taken per the latest report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The reports talk about the ‘interference in the 2016 election, which called Instagram “the most effective tool” used by the Internet Research Campaign.’
Facebook says the changes are made to “protect the democratic process” and check the spread of bogus information during elections and after.
How Does It Work?
The users will now be able to report misinformation by clicking the three dots in the upper right corner of every post. The dots open up to two new options designating it as “inappropriate” and then as “false information.”
Once a post is flagged, it will be reviewed by fact-checkers and will be labeled as ‘fake’ or ‘false’. However, it won’t completely remove the post from its site, unlike Facebook.
Instagram will control the spread of such posts and won’t be displaying it on the platform’s search, hashtag or explore pages.
“We will also use this feedback to train artificial intelligence technology, which will allow us to proactively find and rate misinformation on Instagram without the need for a report,” Instagram said in the announcement.
How Effective This Change Might Be
Instagram is indeed a hotbed for fake information or propaganda centric news. To protect its users from falling into the trap of fake news, such an initiative taken up by the photo-sharing app is much appreciated.
Considering the rise of hate-crime, misleading information, political campaigns, communist posts, the judgment power of ordinary citizens seems to be shaken. With so much information inflow over the internet, it becomes hard to decide which one should be believed.
Priyanka Jha, a researcher at fact-checking website Alt News, said there is plenty of fake news and misinformation circulating on Instagram. “There is no monitoring of fake news and objectionable content on Instagram,” she said.
“There is a lot of misinformation on the platform which is going unnoticed. There are a lot of pages and accounts currently circulating content on divisive politics and propaganda. This content has certainly gone up of late,” she further added.
Keeping the expert’s view in mind, a filter checker on viral information promises to decrease the spread of false news and allows us to do a fact-check before believing anything blindly.
The authorities concerned seem to have high hopes from this add-on feature and encourages the idea of social media transparency. Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox writes that, “We hope that in aggregate these changes will be a big step to improve the quality of civic engagement in our products, and to keep the public discourse strong.”
With this said, we wished that such a feature was introduced a long time back before the country went in for a ‘political division’ and ‘hate crime’ in the lieu of false information. Nevertheless, we still have a lot of expectations from this update as its said, better late than never.
Image Credits: Google Images
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