Next year is the 2020 US presidential elections and, like the 2016 one, social media will play a crucial role, especially when it comes to the spread of misinformation. In a bid to better fight the sharing of false content, Instagram has announced that it will label such content as false if shared from Facebook (which owns Instagram).
This forms part of several steps that Facebook is wanting to take in coming months, with the firm also noting that it will expand its fact checking programme worldwide. We’ve already seen the company partner with local organisations to tackle misinformation on the African content, so we should be seeing more of these kinds of initiatives in future.
As for the Instagram portion of the initiative posts that appear to be misleading will be automatically flagged, with a similar process being used vice versa. Facebook explains that there will be a “false information” overlay over dubious posts, with a link detailing why it has been flagged.
Should an Instagram user be a repeat offender when it comes to posting misinformation, their account will be pulled from the Explore page of the platform.
Whether that will serve as a strong enough deterrent remains to be seen, particularly as bad actors can often employ a network of bots to create multiple accounts in order to better spread misinformation.
While it is indeed good to see Facebook put some of its tools to use in combating false information, it may prove moot given CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent comments during an appearance in front of the US Senate in which he explained that the company would not remove misleading ads from political candidates.
As such it remains to be seen if the steps taken by Facebook for platforms like Instagram will have the desired effect, especially as its own still persists as a potential safe haven for bad actors during the US presidential elections.