To curb the spread of “misleading” information ahead of the election, Instagram announced that it would remove the Recent tab from the hashtag pages. The move is among several Facebook is taking in preparation for the election next week.
Instagram hopes that removing the Recent hashtags will “make it harder for people to come across possible misinformation.”
The site announced the move today on Twitter.
“As we near the U.S. elections, we're making changes to make it harder for people to come across possible misinformation on Instagram,” Instagram Comms tweeted.
“Starting today, for people in the U.S. we will temporarily remove the “Recent” tab from hashtag pages. We're doing this to reduce the real-time spread of potentially harmful content that could pop up around the election,” the follow-up tweet read.
This step is one of several Facebook is taking in preparation for the election. Political ads were removed starting Tuesday this week, and they will not be allowed even after the election. The company has also made plans on how it will handle candidates who try to announce their victory before official results are released and those who will not accept defeat.
Traditionally, policing truth has not been Instagram's priority. The app only decided to be an arbiter of truth this year. Yet, a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the 2016 Russia election interference claimed that Instagram was “the most effective tool used by the IRA to conduct its information operations campaign.”
It taking stricter steps because it is worried there could be post-election protests, which will likely take place regardless of Instagram's actions.
“I'm worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of civil unrest across the country,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said when the company was announcing its third-quarter earnings. “Given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we've done before.”