We’ve all seen the reports surrounding fake news on social media platforms in the news recently, as social giants are warned they need to take more action to prevent the spreading of these fake and potentially dangerous news articles. Well, Facebook has now launched a new feature on its Instagram platform which allows its users to flag any news articles that they believe to be fake. These are then reviewed by the platforms ‘fact-checking partners’ who will establish whether the article is true, or if it is indeed, fake.
Facebook informed back in May this year that it would be clamping down on fake stories circulating on its platforms and that it would be gradually increasing its focus on its Instagram platform. Hashtags and posts that promote anti-vaccination have been started to be blocked, and it has also tightened its political advertising rules in preparation for the presidential election in the US next year.
Users of Instagram will now be able to flag news they believe to be fake by simply clicking the three dots shown in the top right corner and reporting the post as ‘false information.’ These flagged posts then go through to the fact-checkers and posts rated as false by these will then be ‘downgraded’ on the platforms hashtag search and explore pages, making them less visible to users.
A researcher from the University of Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Project, Samantha Bradshaw, said that viral images and videos shared on platforms such as Instagram are “the future of disinformation and fake news.” She added, “No-one has time to read a long piece containing false information anymore. People want a brief, digestible and sometimes humorous image or video carrying a specific political message.”
Though Ms Bradshaw thinks that new flagging tools are a “step in the right direction” she also expressed her concern that this does not directly address the cause of the issue: “Platforms should think deeply about the broader issues that cause false content to go viral, rather than content that is true. They need to address concerns regarding their algorithms and business models.”
Instagram’s new flagging feature was introduced in mid-August in the US, and it has since been rolled out across the globe.