Social media platforms are a great way to stay up to date with what’s happening out there, but they’re also a hotbed for misinformation. Case in point Facebook, and the spread of falsehoods on it.
One of the platforms that Facebook owns, Instagram, has also come into focus of late for the way it handles misinformation being shared online… or rather does not handle.
More specifically the platform came under fire recently for failing to address the divisive issue of vaccines, and in particular the way in which false information about vaccines is being allowed to be shared on Instagram.
In order to address this issue, as well as misinformation in general, Instagram has told Engadget that it will block any hashtags that surface “verifiably false” information pertaining to vaccines. We’re assuming this goes for both pro and anti vaccine rhetoric.
This latest approach is a slight tweak to the way Instagram operated in the past, having previously blocked misleading hashtags specifically, such as #vaccinescauseautism and #vaccinescauseaids, both of which are patently incorrect.
Now Instagram will not only be blocking hashtags like the ones listed, but also any content with hashtags that feature demonstrably false information about vaccines.
For those unfamiliar with blocked hashtags, it becomes almost impossible to find any information on Instagram about it, with clicking on such a hashtag leading to a blank page. It also won’t show up if an Instagram user tries to search for it.
As such anti-vaxxers will likely need to turn to more inventive ways to spread their vaccine falsehoods. That said, we’re still to see where this new approach does indeed stop the sharing of misinformation, and whether it can be applied to similar campaigns centred around creating confusion and false narratives.[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]