Instagram disables a characteristic that can be utilized to sow election misinformation


Adam Mosseri, Facebook

Beck Diefenbach | Reuters

Instagram, owned by Facebook, announced on Thursday that it was temporarily removing the Recent tab from hashtag pages in an attempt to reduce the spread of misinformation in the run-up to the November 3rd US election.

"We are doing this to reduce the spread of potentially harmful content in real time that may emerge in connection with the elections," said the social network in a tweet.

When people tap or search for a hashtag on Instagram, the app shows them the best results and the latest results. The Recent tab shows the latest content tagged with that hashtag, regardless of whether it is relevant to the topic.

The decision to disable the current tab for Instagram hashtags came after Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday he was concerned about the increased risk of rioting in the US due to the election.

"I worry that given our nation is so divided and the election results may take days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of unrest across the country," Zuckerberg said in a call about the results of Facebook in the third quarter. "With that in mind, companies like ours need to go way beyond what we've done before."

Other steps the company has taken include helping users register to vote, providing accurate voting information, and banning problematic content, including Holocaust denial.


Katherine Clark