Instagram combats misinformation and trolls with three new features

Instagram just announced three features designed to bring a measure of security and peace of mind to the pla...

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 11:11 AM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 11:11 AM

Instagram just announced three features designed to bring a measure of security and peace of mind to the platform as it tries to avoid some of the trust issues roiling its parent company, Facebook.

The new tools will make it much easier for users to know who's actually behind some of the platform's biggest accounts. It also is introducing a new verification system for celebrities and public figures, and offers support for the use of third-party authenticator apps.

The goal is to increase transparency and help users learn more about the accounts they follow. Instagram wants to address some of the problems facing it and other platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, which have in recent weeks shut down hundreds of accounts linked to Iran, Russia and others seeking to sow discord and disinformation.

"Keeping people with bad intentions off our platform is incredibly important to me," said Mike Krieger, cofounder and chief technology officer of Instagram, in a blog post. "That means trying to make sure the people you follow and the accounts you interact with are who they say they are, and stopping bad actors before they cause harm."

The "About This Account" tool lets users check the legitimacy of any account that reaches "a large audience" by revealing a wealth of information that can indicate its authenticity. The details include when the account started, the country in which it's located, other accounts with shared followers, any username changes in the past year and ads the account is currently running.

Facebook would not share how many followers an account must have, but said it's focused on accounts that have a significant risk of misleading people.

Celebrities, public figures, and other notable accounts can also now apply to have their accounts verified by providing Instagram with their user name, full name, and a copy of a legal or business ID. Once verified, their accounts will feature a blue "verified" badge similar to the one Twitter uses, letting people know the account is the real deal.

It's also adding the option to use third-party authenticator apps, such as Google Authenticator, for a secure way to log into Instagram.

Instagram hopes the increased transparency will help users weed out the sort of fake accounts and pages that have peppered social media in recent years. Last week, Facebook said it had taken down 652 pages, accounts and groups — including some on Instagram — that it identified as part of coordinated disinformation campaigns that originated in Iran. Twitter and Google said they had also disabled similar Iran-linked accounts on their platforms.

Earlier this year CNN reported the biggest page on Facebook claiming to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement was a scam with ties to a middle-aged white man in Australia.

Analysts say Instagram's latest efforts are a way for it to try to avoid future issues.

"In all this discussion of fake news and [election] meddling, Facebook has been much more in the crosshairs than Instagram," said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at research firm eMarketer. "Instagram has been perceived as a safe haven."

By introducing these features, it can help indicate to users that Instagram takes safety and the accuracy of information shared on its platform seriously.

"It's becoming the unfortunate reality of social media," Williamson said. "These services need to go the extra mile."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 67649

Reported Deaths: 1912
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5613118
DeSoto365831
Harrison252036
Madison242266
Rankin228334
Jackson227642
Jones189958
Forrest180656
Washington166341
Lee146241
Lauderdale141292
Neshoba128692
Lamar122014
Oktibbeha112239
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Warren109333
Lowndes107737
Panola105913
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Scott100320
Lafayette97316
Copiah95428
Pike93636
Leflore93363
Holmes89248
Grenada84721
Yazoo83112
Pontotoc8278
Lincoln81741
Monroe79655
Simpson79630
Leake78825
Wayne76721
Coahoma76013
Tate73429
Marshall6959
Marion67720
Union63616
Adams62325
Winston62016
Covington61213
George5815
Pearl River55039
Newton54211
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Attala52225
Walthall50220
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Noxubee45711
Alcorn4285
Calhoun4189
Tishomingo4175
Prentiss41210
Claiborne40713
Smith40513
Clay39614
Hancock39014
Jasper3869
Tippah36613
Itawamba35910
Tunica3377
Clarke32726
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29311
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25012
Perry2367
Webster23412
Kemper23314
Amite2326
Jefferson Davis2316
Wilkinson21213
Stone1995
Sharkey1975
Jefferson1967
Benton1441
Choctaw1344
Franklin1272
Issaquena261
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99390

Reported Deaths: 1733
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13109243
Mobile9947207
Montgomery6835148
Madison537834
Tuscaloosa421373
Unassigned359961
Baldwin354425
Shelby328335
Marshall316736
Lee267845
Morgan239318
Etowah212131
DeKalb181913
Calhoun178414
Elmore172338
Walker152664
Houston139812
Russell13682
St. Clair133817
Limestone133313
Dallas132323
Franklin127420
Cullman122512
Colbert118113
Autauga116921
Lauderdale116719
Escambia108217
Talladega102614
Jackson9894
Tallapoosa85579
Chambers84138
Dale83424
Blount8004
Chilton7926
Butler76436
Coffee7616
Covington73520
Pike7097
Clarke6629
Barbour5755
Marion57424
Lowndes57224
Marengo55215
Hale47626
Bullock46411
Winston45311
Perry4424
Bibb4385
Wilcox42910
Monroe4214
Randolph40110
Pickens4009
Conecuh39310
Washington39112
Sumter36018
Lawrence3491
Macon33514
Crenshaw3185
Choctaw28312
Cherokee2737
Henry2633
Geneva2611
Clay2585
Greene25111
Lamar2222
Fayette2075
Cleburne1271
Coosa1012
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