Fake News 2020

Instagram is the great global network of global information, and we didn’t know it.

Instagram wants us to trust what we see. The company has acknowledged that the increasing output of false information in audiovisual format poses a serious problem for its business model and for the information industry in general. In the United States, Instagram works with fact-checking organizations that review, identify and label false audiovisual content circulating around the popular social media network.

When users come across labeled content, they first see a message informing them that what they want to view is false, with an explanation of why, and further information provided by the fact-checking organization responsible for labeling the false material. The user has the option to view the original content, but only after being warned of its inauthenticity. Instagram is now expanding this model and will collaborate with local fact-checking companies all over the world.

Has Instagram finally accepted the responsibility that comes with the possession of great power? Has ethics suddenly invaded its algorithms? Is the impact of false information showing on its income statement? It probably comes down to a bit of each and undoubtedly to the fact that 2020 is a presidential election year in the United States; neither Facebook (which owns Instagram) nor U.S. democracy can afford another scandal like Cambridge Analytica.

On Instagram, we find accounts that belong to politicians, political parties, lobbyists and organizations, not to mention the countless individual users, anonymous users, trolls, fakes and bots that support one idea or another, spread political content, memes, information, misinformation and blatantly false information. Instagram is aware of the impact it could have on the outcome of the presidential election, particularly in key states. The same thing occurred in the 2016 elections, when Facebook contributed to the demobilization of the young and traditionally progressive sector of the electorate.

But this presidential election promises to be very different. With the majority of Generation Z – those born at the end of the ‘90s and beginning of the 2000s – voting for the first time, and issues such as gun control, the climate crisis and the fight against inequality on the table, the vote might lean toward more progressive candidates – provided that young voters take action (or do not abstain).

According to a survey carried out by Business Insider in January 2019, 59% of young people in the U.S. find out about what is happening in the world via social media, with Instagram as the most popular source, followed by YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter. If you belong to Generation Z, you’ll find this normal. If, on the other hand, you find this hard to believe, you can carry on posting photos of food and trips on Instagram as you’ve been doing until now, ignoring the fact that this is a huge global information network and the place where your children are getting their information.

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