Instagram will block hashtags spreading fake news regarding vaccines

Just one day after coming under attack for inconsistent practices in its handling of misinformation regarding vaccines, Instagram said that it’ll block hashtags that surface “verifiably false” info relating to vaccinations. The new policy will extend Instagram’s ban policy to hashtags that may appear unrelated or innocuous however are used to unfold debunked claims.

Instagram previously blocked hashtags that contained false information, like #vaccinescauseautism and #vaccinescauseaids. Currently the corporate will block hashtags that don’t essentially contain debunked info however are employed by anti-vaxxers to unfold demonstrably false claims. For example, if groups began using the hashtag #vaccines1234 to share misinformation, that hashtag would be blocked by Instagram.

When a hashtag is blocked by Instagram, it makes it basically impossible to seek out content or organize around. Making an attempt to click on a prohibited hashtag won’t produce any results and the hashtag won’t come up once users look for it. Parent company Facebook has additionally taken similar steps to limit the spread of misinformation regarding vaccines.

Instagram said it’s additionally trying to find new ways to combat fake news. The corporate already surfaces a pop-up message when people look for hashtags associated with opioids or self-harm and is exploring an identical one for vaccine-related topics. The corporate said the process remains in the early stages because it continues to sort out its policies in handling potentially harmful content and accounts. Earlier this week, Instagram announced it’ll create new, universal pointers for how account bans are handled whereas additionally giving users new tools to appeal takedowns.