Instagram has now announced two new updates to the app, wherein notifications will be displayed in order to combat the spread of any misinformation related to the novel coronavirus. As per the change, users in areas with surging cases will see a link to their local health authority at the top of their feed and anyone searching for vaccine information will also be directed to credible health sources.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as vaccines are beginning to roll-out, and so is the misinformation around it, Instagram has decided to update its policies by now adding two new notifications, out of which will link a local authority at the top of feeds in the case of areas with a larger volume of cases. Furthermore, the social media app will also lead users to credible health sources, in the event that they search for information related to vaccines.
Second, in addition to removing widely debunked claims about the COVID-19 vaccines, when people search for terms related to vaccines or COVID-19, we’ll direct them to information from credible health authorities. pic.twitter.com/J5AUx3pJ4w
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) December 17, 2020
In addition to these two updates, the social network will also be blocking hashtags that contain vaccine misinformation. Instagram will begin hiding search results for hashtags that consistently return false information about vaccines. “If the hashtag was #vaccines1234, if it contained a high proportion of known vaccine misinformation, we would block that hashtag entirely,” said Karina Newton, Instagram’s global head of public policy on Thursday. “Known vaccine misinformation refers to misinformation that has been verified as false by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and similar organizations Other posts that express anti-vaccine views but have not been confirmed as false could be allowed to stay up”, the company said.
The features have come at a time when many companies, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are taking steps to keep coronavirus misinformation from spreading at a vital time for the US, as health institutions struggle with record hospitalizations and the first of the approved COVID-19 vaccines start to roll out.
On Thursday, Instagram also said the work to remove anti-vaccination information from the platform was in its early stages, and that people would likely continue to find anti-vaccination propaganda on the service for some time.