By Gaby Ndongo (3 mins read)
To combat misinformation, social networking service Instagram has globally expanded its factchecking process, which began since May of 2019 in the United States (US).
Misinformation is “false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive”, according to Oxford Dictionaries.
“When content has been rated as false or partly false by a third-party fact-checker, we reduce its distribution by removing it from (the) explore (section) and hashtag pages,” they explained.
“In addition, it will be labelled so people can better decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share. When these labels are applied, they will appear to everyone around the world viewing that content – in feed, profile, stories, and direct messages.”
Potential misinformation is identified by inspecting the posts of startling comments or false information reports from users. Another method entails image matching.
“We use image matching technology to find further instances of this (misinformation) content and apply the label, helping reduce the spread of misinformation,” said Instagram.
Material labelled as false in Facebook appears as such on Instagram and vice versa. This misinformation label then avails links to the fact-checking organisation’s rating of the post and credible sources speaking about the subject at hand.
Nonetheless, there are several challenges involving the factchecking of social media posts.
Despite rolling out the process in December 2016, it is difficult for its mother company, Facebook, to distinguish false information from opinion and satire.
“We strongly believe that people should be able to debate different ideas, even controversial ones,” said Facebook’s product manager Tessa Lyons. “We also recognize (that) there can be a fine line between misinformation and satire or opinion.”
Instagram was launched in October 2010. It now consists of a total of 1 billion+ active users on a monthly basis and 500 million+ stories each day.
Recently, Instagram made a date of birth mandatory when one creates an account. It is in the aim of creating appropriate, age-tailored experiences and so make the platform safer for young users.
The decision comes in the wake of self-harm and suicidal posts that have been shared via Instagram, including the live feed of a Norwegian teenager committing suicide.
The Facebook company has also removed the likes’ feature of posts in areas such as the US and Europe.
American comedian Allen DeGeneres says the act may diminish the sense of competition caused by likes and help people to better focus on the visual content. TOJ
Reporting by Gaby Ndongo; Editing by Kupakwashe Kambasha and Hendrica Nkoana. Feature image: a screenshot of misinformation labels. Image by Gaby Ndongo.