FOR ANYONE WHO routinely sifts through pages and pages of impossibly beautiful people in perfectly arranged scenes, the idea that Instagram is full of fakery won't come as a huge surprise.
But parent-company Facebook - usually the kind of parent that believes in letting kids make their own societally ruinous mistakes - is taking a slightly tougher line with Instagram in the run up to the 2020 election. Yep, it's worried about its ongoing fake news problem contaminating Instagram.
As such the site is now letting American users flag fake content. Anything flagged and then confirmed by Instagram won't be deleted, but it will have its reach severely dented, no longer appearing in the "explore" tab or in searches for hashtags. "This is an initial step as we work towards a more comprehensive approach to tackling misinformation," Stephanie Otway, a Facebook company spokesperson, told The Guardian.
You might think that a foreign power aiming to sow discord would sidestep a platform better known for mildly diverting animal pictures and hilariously forced product placement. But according to an independent report commissioned by the Senate select committee on intelligence, it's "perhaps the most effective platform."
New Knowledge, the firm that produced the report, explained this is thanks to the level of engagement, which is apparently higher than Facebook. "Our assessment is that Instagram is likely to be a key battleground on an ongoing basis," the report adds.
That probably depends on your definition of engagement, of course. If engagement just means tapping the heart button while idly scrolling then we'd be surprised if hearts and minds were truly being changed. All the same, be on the lookout for pictures of pugs dressed like Game of Thrones characters with accompanying captions calling for more lenient gun laws or medicare for all. µ
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