Instagram pauses current search lists in the US to stop fake election messages

Facebook’s Instagram announced on Thursday that it was making changes to its image-sharing platform for US users to prevent the spread of misinformation in the November 3rd presidential election.

For users in the US, Instagram will temporarily remove the “Recently Used” tab from the hashtag pages from Thursday, according to a statement on Twitter.

“We are doing this to reduce the real-time dissemination of potentially harmful content that could occur in the elections,” the statement added.

Instagram’s Recent tab arranges hashtags in chronological order and expands the content. Researchers have indicated that automated reinforcement can lead to the rapid spread of misinformation on the platform.

The development comes from the increasing pressure on social media companies to tackle election-related misinformation and prepare for the possibility of violence or intimidation at polling stations around the November 3rd vote.

Earlier this month, Twitter announced that it would be removing tweets urging people to interfere in the US election process or the implementation of the election results, including through violence.

Twitter recently announced several temporary steps to slow down content amplification: For example, global users who click Retweet will be directed to the Quote Tweet button first from October 20 through at least the end of US election week to encourage people to add their own comment.

Twitter said it will also stop popping up trending topics with no additional context. The decision to slow down automated recommendations is in contrast to the approach taken by Facebook, which previously boosted advertising for its group’s product.

Separately on Thursday, Facebook admitted that a technical glitch in its systems caused a number of Republican and Democratic party ads to improperly pause.

It was the result of a policy change Facebook announced last month to block new political advertisements in the week leading up to the election. Facebook has made updates so that the affected ads can be shown.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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