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Instagram, Facebook ramp up efforts to suppress content that is deemed fake news

Is this a slippery slope?

Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The social media company Instagram is increasing its effort to stop the spread of false information on the site by using some of the same fact checking methods employed by its parent company Facebook, according to Poynter.

Like Facebook, Instagram deals with content, such as memes, that carry false or misleading messages. Instagram won't remove those posts, but the site will begin suppressing them.

"Our approach to misinformation is the same as Facebook's — when we find misinfo, rather than remove it, we'll reduce its distribution," Instagram spokeswoman Stephanie Otway told Poynter. "We can use image recognition technology to find the same piece of content on Instagram and take automatic action."

The suppression of content determined to be false would happen by preventing it from showing up in featured areas of the app, such as in the "Explore" tab or in the hashtag search results.

Instagram may also add a feature that presents users with a warning or informational message when they try to share content the fact-checkers have deemed false, hoping to discourage them from going through with the post.

"We all know any kind of images and pictures are a main driver of misinformation in any platform," said Tai Nalo, director of the fact checking site Aos Fatos. "Alerting those who share (false posts) like they do on Facebook would be best. But perhaps it is only the beginning of their actions there, I suppose."

The measures, while allegedly targeting demonstrably false information right now, will raise some concerns about how far-reaching they may become.

There have been numerous instances on social platforms such as Facebook and YouTube in recent months about the suppression of conservative media, often without any clear reason for the actions.

"I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms," President Donald Trump tweeted in response to some high profile user bans on Facebook. "This is the United States of America — and we have what's known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!"

One last thing…
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