Instagram wants you to help it fight fake news online with a new reporting tool

Fake news and misinformation is back on the agenda again with the social media platforms offering their different ways on how to prevent fake content being shared online.

Instagram is tapping its users for help in dealing with misinformation thanks to a new reporting tool. Starting from the end of August, if an Instagram user sees something that they think may be false, they can tap the “Report” button, then selected “It’s Inappropriate” followed by the “False Information” option to report it to Instagram. 

If Instagram receives a certain amount of feedback on the same piece of content, such as a photo or a video, the content will then be reviewed by its third-party fact checkers. Depending on the nature of the content, it will be removed from the platform. 

Any reports that come through Instagram this way will be used to train its artificial intelligence (AI) technology which is currently being worked on and will be deployed at some point in the future to proactively find and rate misinformation on the platform without having to manually report it. 

At the moment, the new tool is only available in the US as part of a pilot project. The idea is that this will be rolled out further depending on its effectiveness, so it will probably come to the UK at some point. 

This is a part of a wider effort by Instagram’s parent company Facebook to tackle fake news. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that its fact-checking programme, facilitated by the charity Full Fact, was launching in the UK. Content flagged as fake by either fact-checkers or Facebook users (and then verified as fake by Full Fact) is now de-ranked by the algorithm so it appears lower in the News Feed and doesn’t reach as many people. 

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How Instagram’s new reporting tool will look (Instagram)

Video platform YouTube is also stepping up its efforts to deal with misinformation, or what it terms “borderline” content. Since introducing changes to the Up Next recommendation algorithm, YouTube has seen a 50 per cent reduction in these types of videos in the US. It is now rolling out the same processes in the UK. 

The company’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, told the Standard: This notion of our responsibility as a global platform has been a top priority for us for the last couple of years. We’ve introduced more than 30 policy changes, we have moderators rating videos based on the changes. We’ve built up dozens of machine-learning systems to detect content that might potentially violate the new policy changes we’ve developed.


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