Facebook has been a breeding ground for partisan violations, satirical articles and conspiracy theories ahead of the 2016 US presidential election. As the social network is designed to encourage users to continue to share and comment by promoting controversial content and catalyzing strong reactions, resulting in multiple efforts to combat this trend .
Instagram for politics and government
In 2018, Facebook has issued a comprehensive guide on best practices for using Instagram to promote shared experiences and strengthen relationships. The guide positions images as a “new form of language” and explains how Instagram can help elected officials, political candidates and governments use this language to connect digitally with audiences.
The guide demonstrates how compelling content is key to carrying messages to all corners of the globe. It emphasizes that by utilizing the platform’s range of tools, including audiovisual material, engaging hashtags, stories, live video and more, users can tell a story that resonates with others on a personal level. Prominent global leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the guide notes, are successfully using Instagram to forge meaningful connections.
“Elected officials, governments, campaigns and candidates use Instagram to break down barriers and meaningfully connect with their constituents in a visually compelling way,” the guide explains. “Through Instagram, you can provide people with a front-row ticket and backstage pass to your work, politics and important civic moments around the world.”
The new source of fake news and information.
In its latest report, The Economist spoke about Instagram’s transformation into the new source of fake news and information.
The magazine said that one of the reasons for the increasing popularity of Instagram since 2016 is the boredom of users from the crowded interface and cumbersome privacy controls for Facebook. In contrast, Instagram provides an opportunity to display beautiful pictures with ease of use.
The “story” feature, which is represented by pictures and videos that disappear after a day of its presentation, is the main reason behind the site’s impressive growth in 2016. It should be noted that the idea of the “story” enabled users to savor the joy of publishing with a sense of security They knew that the posts would disappear at the end of the day.
Instagram has increased in popularity with the older generation. In June 2016, the number of users was around 500 million, and then the number increased to one billion users by June 2018. Meanwhile, about half of the US House of Representatives and about three-quarters of the Senators had accounts on this platform.
The report emphasized that it is reasonable to assume that all of these numbers are much higher at the present time. Moreover, Instagram’s 10th volume account gets three times as many Facebook interactions as a whole, according to the Axios news site.
The “story” feature of Instagram has changed a lot now, as text writing has been added to the visual content, and users can re-share what others post more easily. In fact, the combination of text writing and image publishing with a huge user base has made Instagram more similar to Facebook.
New ways to bring politics to Instagram
Instagram is still a platform for posting pictures of sunset, coffee mugs and a plaza for attractive young “influencers,” making users less cautious, but it is also providing a breeding ground for advertising. In this regard, it can be said that politics has permeated a long time ago within this site.
It has not shed enough light on the role Instagram played during the 2016 elections, according to the report mandated by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The report added that the Russians turned their attention in 2017 to Instagram after extensive media coverage of their Facebook and Twitter operations.
The magazine reported that a New York University report cautioned against turning Instagram into “the preferred medium for those wishing to spread misleading information” in the context of the 2020 elections. The report also noted “the increase in conspiracy and hoax theories that were created locally alongside Russian interference.”
The magazine also touched on the proliferation of accounts devoted to the cases fueling the dispute and the accounts that use the political publication, just as it happened when Facebook published the extremist and fake stories during the previous elections. Moreover, users have devised many ways to bring politics into the network, such as changing their profile pictures to red in support of Kashmir, or blue in support of Sudan.
On November 2019, in an attempt to fight misinformation spread through photos and video, Instagram is adding a “False Information” warning to the platform. Using a combination of user reporting and automation, suspected content will be sent to independent fact-checkers for review and flagged as “false” if it turns out to be fake.