Instagram is now using image recognition technology alongside other tools to determine posts and stories that may contain fraudulent information and hand them off to Facebook's partners for review.
If they're determined to be false, Instagram will not recommend the posts to new users in the Explore tab or hashtag — emphasis on "will not recommend," because that's it; the company won't remove the misleading posts and, more importantly, won't demote them in users' main feeds.
Instagram Starts Fact-Checking Posts
Poynter first reported this setup, which could leave millions upon millions of users exposed to misinformation on the platform.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, launched a program in December 2016 that aimed to cut down the spread of fake news on the social network with the help of fact-checking firms, of which there are now 52 in over 30 countries. When one of them rates a particular content as false, its News Feed reach is decreased and users are warned upon attempting to share it.
Instagram is taking those fact-checkers and seeking their help for the same false photos or memes crowding its platform.
"Our approach to misinformation is the same as Facebook's — when we find [misinformation], rather than remove it, we'll reduce its distribution," said Stephanie Otway, a spokesperson for Instagram, in an interview with Poynter. "We can use image recognition technology to find the same piece of content on Instagram and take automatic action."
While Instagram won't removed posts flagged as false, it'll be harder for users to find them, unless of course they're already following an account that constantly posts them.
This system has been in development since the U.S. midterm election, when Instagram began working more closely with Facebook's News Feed Integrity team, according to Otway. This is a big move for a social network that's teeming with bogus accounts, conspiracy theories, and outright false information — which some say is harder to verify than on Facebook.
Instagram Planning To Educate Users On False Posts
In addition to handing off posts to Facebook's fact-checking partners, Instagram is also thinking of adding features that educate people on misinformation, such as a popup dialogue that appears when people search for, say, posts on anti-vaccine.
Right now, Instagram's fact-checking efforts are still in its testing phase, and there's still no guarantee if the system will be implemented widely down the line. Still, it's an important step to ensuring the platform is rid of false, misguided posts that potentially harms public consciousness.