Instagram hides photos that spread fake news

Instagram is developing a new feature to tag fake or computer-retouched images. Here's how it works

Instagram is increasingly attentive to the quality of its content and for the past few months has been working on new features that aim to check for fake news and offensive messages. In December, it announced the birth of a new feature.

With the help of the online platform called NewsMobile, the application will detect which photographs have false or misleading content. Images that have been retouched with Photoshop will also be flagged and this is likely to damage the visibility of many accounts. In particular, the operation is likely to reduce the visibility of many photographs and artists who use Instagram to promote their art. The new feature was scouted by photographer Toby Harriman. The function consists in obscuring the reported content and informing the user that it contains false information. It is not yet known when it will be rolled out to apps around the world.

Instagram's new feature against manipulated photos

The first online platform to report the news was PetaPixel. Here, photographer Toby Harriman spilled the beans to the site that he had discovered a new feature: while browsing Instagram, a pop-up notification appeared that alerted him to the counterfeiting of a photograph he had lingered on. The window obscured the image and read "false information". The app then allowed the user to look at the image anyway, removing the patina that obscured it, or discover the reasons for this sort of censorship. The photo reported by photographer Harriman depicted a shark submerged in water: the function found that the huge fish had been added with Photoshop.

The photograph belonged to Christopher Hainey and had been edited by artist Ramzy Masri. The content was also picked up by NewsMobile, a site that unmasks fake photos, particularly from Instagram. Among the most famous fake images in the world stands out that of Death Valley National Park, a mountain range that appears in many photographs to which the colors are manipulated. In the end, the panoramic photographs show the peaks in different colors, so much so that this corner of the world has been renamed "Rainbow Mountains".

The reaction of photographers and artists to Instagram's new feature

The feature has alarmed many photographers and artists who love to play with effects, color changes and more. From the manipulation of landscapes, people, simple glimpses of the world, beautiful works of art are created that could now be subject to censorship by Instagram. However, the panic is not justified because the platform will only black out images previously reported by fact-checking sites.

Instagram in its official blog has announced that the app will tend over time to show less content posted by frequently reported accounts. These will also be removed from the Explore section. Artists won't be notified when their work is flagged so they won't have full control over the spread of photographs. In addition, there is a possibility that an art account will be tagged for the presence of fake news, causing damage to the profiles.

It is not yet known how and when the feature will be part of the app's standard ones. We'll just have to wait and see what the consequences of this new feature will be.