Instagram Tries Clamping Down on Misinformation

California County Enlists Social Media to Thwart a Misleading Election Photo

Targeted spreading misinformation on its platform on Thursday, Instagram announced that users would temporarily no longer be able to view some recent posts before election day.

In two tweets, Instagram said it would remove the "last" tab from hashtag pages. Previously, users could see the latest posts that were tagged with a specific hashtag. Now only "top" posts under a certain hashtag that have been verified by the platform will be shown.

Instagram, owned by Facebook, said the change was made to "reduce the real-time spread of potentially harmful content that could pop up in the election".

The change went into effect on Thursday evening and the New tab will return sometime after the election, an Instagram spokeswoman said. The platform hopes the change will allow it to proactively prevent the spread of misinformation instead of having to wait for a lie to spread widely.

Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation analyst at the Wilson Center, an impartial thank you, said Instagram's decision a few days before the election was "pretty late" but "better than nothing".

"I hope that in the future, social media platforms will recognize that elections are a turning point in disinformation campaigns, not an end point," she said. "Such a decision at the beginning of the cycle could, for example, have reduced the spread of misinformation during voting."

Ms. Jankowicz said much of the misinformation circulated on Instagram was related to QAnon, the unfounded pro-Trump conspiracy theory, and misinformation about California Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential candidate.

Instagram's decision follows Facebook and Twitter's crackdown on viral lies. Twitter recently added context to trending topics and de-emphasized retweets ahead of the elections, while Facebook announced it would be banning political ads indefinitely. Both companies have put some labels on misleading posts and highlighted accurate voting information after raising alarms about the possibility of a controversial election result and the chaos it could cause.