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In another sign of the times, Facebook division Instagram is going to start “fact checking” uploads to its service.
Why, you might ask?
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Because people spread a ton of misinformation on Instagram in both well-made and poorly-constructed posts of varying sensationalism – at least that's the theory.
It is medical misinformation, in particular, that has gotten the attention of news agencies around the world, especially in the United States which is grappling with a measles epidemic partially blamed on vaccination skepticism.
And then there’s the political angle to all of this as well. A lot of people think that voters are influenced by what they see on Facebook and Instagram – accurate or not.
Instagram, like Facebook, is a source of information for millions of people and some less-than-reputable accounts take advantage of this.
What happens once they identify something that has “misinformation”?
Don’t worry – they won’t take it down.
They’ll just slap some kind of electronic version of the Scarlet Letter on it, labeling the post as “misinformation” in some conspicuous way.
Poynter reports that Instagram is even considering a pop-up warning to users who search for the “misleading information.”
Naturally, this news isn’t going over well with a lot of people who point to freedom of expression concerns as well as the overarching concern that sometimes their algorithms get it wrong.
Nonetheless, it all makes sense as Facebook pushes forward with its plans to further expand Instagram as a platform and vehicle for advertising by big brands.
This might just be one of many steps that the company is taking to “clean up” Instagram to make it attractive to these big advertising dollars.
What do you think?
Do you think that Facebook is unfairly limiting free expression on Instagram? Or do you think that services like Facebook and company such should monitor what their users post in terms of content?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.