Instagram is offering politicians the same freedom to spread misinformation as its parent company, Facebook, according to techCrunch. Instagram began expanding its limited fact-checking tests in the U.S. in May, and now it will work with 45 third-party organizations to evaluate the authenticity of photo and video content in its apps. Content rated “false” will be hidden from the Browse and Tags pages and display interstitial warnings that block content in contributions or stories until the user clicks again to view the post.
In October, Facebook announced that it would use a similar interstitial warning system. Instagram uses image matching technology to find other copies of fake content, apply the same tags, and do so in Facebook and Instagram content. That could become a topic for Facebook as it tries to dissuade regulators from splitting the company and divesting Instagram. On the other hand, this is a valuable economies of scale that protect the Internet. Splitting Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp could lead to worse enforcement through fragmented resources, although this could lead to the app competing for the best reviews.
Instagram is trying to strengthen its security practices across the board. On Monday, the company began reminding users that the titles they would post on photos or videos could be offensive or bullying, and offered them the opportunity to edit them before they were posted. Instagram began making the same commente earlier this year. Instagram is also asking new users about their age to make sure they are 13 years old or older.
However, politicians are a group exempt from fact-checking. Their original content on Instagram, including ads, will not be sent for fact-checking, even if it is inaccurate. This is in line with Facebook’s policy, which has been strongly opposed by critics who say it allows candidates to smear rivals, inflame polarization and raise money through lies. Adam Moseri, Instagram’s chief executive, insists that banning political advertising could hurt challenger candidates and make it difficult to draw a line between political advertising and distribution.
Fortunately, Instagram is less dangerous in this regard, as contributor posts can’t be directly linked to websites where politicians can raise money. However, verified users can attach links to a story, and everyone can have a link in their profile. This means that politicians can still deliberately use false information as a tool on the app.