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A New Battle: Instagram vs Misinformation

A New Battle: Instagram vs Misinformation

The fight against misinformation has always been an uphill battle. This time, the battle sees itself on new ground: Instagram.

Instagram puts its foot down and tackles head-on the rampant issue about fake news.

That was the decision months ago when Instagram decided to add a tool that allowed its users to report posts that contain false information. The results? The posts are sent to the fact checkers of Instagram and from there they can be hidden from Instagram’s Explore page and hashtag page, the public spaces of the app.

We cannot blame the juggernaut photo app for taking this precaution. Other social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are plagued with fake news, conspiracy theories, and other forms of misinformation.

The Battle Plan

Facebook wants to be more serious about battling against fake news on Instagram. The photos app will add ‘false information’ labels to conceal the post in question. Should users still want to view the post they have to click ‘See Post’ to get there. These labels are set to appear not just in the main Instagram feed but also in Stories. It will also warn users who will try to share a post that has been previously debunked by fact-checkers.

Instagram is currently working on being much quicker in fanning out the flames of misinformation before they go viral. If they get signals that a post may be false, they cut down its distribution as their third-party fact-checkers attempt to review it. In short, Instagram urges its users to take a second guess with the flagged posts they see.

While this may seem like an incremental step into getting rid of misinformation completely, it may leave a lasting effect. In Instagram’s battle for misinformation, this tool may prove to be a double-edged sword.

Side 1: Less Hate, More Credibility

Information these days travels faster, whether true or false. The images that accompany this news, it makes these posts all the more convincing. As a result, a person’s perceptions can be easily manipulated with just a simple click of a post.

These effects can be destructive as people’s opinions can be largely shaped by what they see on their own feeds. Even if one person would agree with a post, it would be a source of affirmation for most users. Misinformation set to defame a certain person or brand can bring about hate be the one to set the course for its discourse. With the wrong intentions behind posting, any posts with claims can be destructive.

Facebook’s efforts to fight back against fake news materialized after they realized how Russia used social media in their favor to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They estimated that around 70 million Americans could have seen the Russian propaganda ads. This reflects the potency of false information propaganda in swaying the opinions of the public.

With the enabled tools of Facebook and now Instagram aimed at flagging false information, while it is not a guarantee to eliminate all sources of misinformation, it can help in lessening its reach. This can warn people to be wary of the content and will lead them to seek for other more credible sources of information. This reinforces the path to better credibility in these social network systems.

Side 2: The Influencer Dilemma

This, however, begs the question on how this can affect the future of influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing, a kind of social media marketing, use endorsements and product mentions for individuals called influencers. These influencers often have a dedicated social following and are seen as experts in whatever niche they belong to. What enabled this marketing form to work is because of the high trust the followers of these influencers have, making their word gold.

Influencer marketing was never one to be stagnant as technology and trends constantly change. However, what will it mean for the landscape when posts by influencers can be flagged as false information? What will happen when these claims by esteemed influencers are deemed as misleading by fact-checkers? What if it’s the word of facts vs the word of influencers?

Though these still far stretch, with Facebook’s sworn dedication to combat fake news for itself and Instagram, anything impossible now could be possible eventually. This presses a challenge to influencers and marketers alike that low brow tactics aimed at promoting your product will not suffice. If you want your product to be credible for your customers (and now the fact-checkers), it must have a substantial basis.

Truce

For now, we can call it a truce.

It can be good with its fight for false information, but since this is relatively a new feature used on Instagram, we cannot be entirely sure of where it can lead the influencer market, which resides in this app. Technology is ever-evolving but it is a tool that helps improve how we work and live our lives. Having the right tools that strike the balance of satisfying the demands of both the users and businesses is essential to ensure the best experience for everybody, which is the goal at the end of the day.

Marketing your business on Instagram shouldn’t be as scary as riding headfirst into a battle. You don’t have to do it alone as there are digital marketing agencies fully equipped to help you, just like iManila.

Let iManila be your partner as we navigate new terrain, drop us a message at info@imanila.ph.

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