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Instagram is cracking down on fake news
Photography by Georgia de Lotz, via Unsplash

Instagram will let users report fake news in the app

The platform has launched a tool that lets you report false information

Instagram is attempting to tackle the spread of misinformation by launching a new tool that allows users to report fake news.

Once someone reports a post as containing ‘false information’, it will be sent to the platform’s fact-checkers who will determine if it needs to be hidden from Instagram’s explore and hashtag pages. 

“Starting today, people can let us know if they see posts on Instagram they believe may be false,” spokesperson Stephanie Otway said in a statement. “This is an initial step as we work towards a more comprehensive approach to tackling misinformation.”

Although Facebook (which owns Instagram) has 54 fact-checking partners working in 42 languages, the new tool is currently only being rolled out in the US. It will also only hide content from the explore and hashtag pages rather than a user’s feed – if a post is reported as fake, it will still show up in the TL of people who follow the account.

The platform’s new crackdown comes just months after a deepfake video of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg giving a disturbing speech did the rounds. Previously – when a doctored video of US house speaker Nancy Pelosi went viral – the platform stated it “does not have a policy that stipulates information people publish to Facebook must be true”. Although this change of heart is obviously a positive step forward, you have to question Zuckerberg’s motivations, and why fake accounts and misinformation weren’t bigger priorities during the 2016 US presidential election.

Instagram has announced a number of improvements since the tragic suicide of 14-year-old Molly Russell. The platform launched ‘sensitivity screens’ in February in order to hide self-harm content, although came under fire again last month after graphic images of influencer Bianca Devins’ murder were spread easily across the platform. Instagram has also announced plans to remove likes in an attempt to improve users’ mental health, and launched new anti-bullying features.

The new update is certainly a step forward in reducing misinformation on Instagram, and continues the platform’s efforts to be better for its users. Though it undoubtedly has a long way to go, particularly when it comes to outdated censorship rules.