Two popular platforms are increasing their efforts to combat online misinformation.

Social media giant Instagram and Snopes, a 25-year-old fact-checking site, are launching additional fact-checking features.

Their initiatives come as the 2020 campaign election heats up and scrutiny is increasing around misinformation techniques, including deepfakes and meme purges.

Instagram’s new feature, unveiled on Friday, targets image-based misinformation. Users can report posts as “false information” to IFCN signatory fact-checkers, which includes the Associated Press and PolitiFact. Instagram will not remove posts that it deems false. Instead, it will exclude them from the “explore” and “hashtag” pages to limit discovery. 

Instagram’s new feature extends the Third Party Fact-Checking Program (3PFC) of Instagram’s parent company Facebook, which has been in place since 2016

For the first time, Snopes will include a rating for satire and humor content. Going forward, satirical articles will receive the “labeled satire” rating from the fact-checker. Earlier this month, Snopes was criticized for mislabeling an article from Christian satire site The Babylon Bee as fake news.

Snopes will also offer curated “Collections” on themes selected and pre-approved by Snopes’ staff; fact-check templates for Snopes writers; and notes attached to articles that provide contextual information on common references.

  • Memes have become a key tool for driving misinformation. 
  • Facebook, which owns Instagram, has been intensely criticized for allowing Russia’s Internet Research Agency to run targeted campaigns during the U.S.’s 2016 presidential election — a large chunk of which consisted of image-based memes on Instagram.
  • In Congressional hearings with tech giants in October 2017, House representatives presented a number of posts that appeared to come from Russian sources. All were memes, not articles.
  • Snopes argues today’s readers “increasingly consume content not because they have deliberately sought it out, but because it has been presented to them by the black-box algorithms of social media platforms and news aggregators — content that is increasingly divorced both from its branding and from the desired readership of its producers.”
  • Karma Take: Social platforms are taking seemingly innocuous content, such as memes and satire, more seriously as tactics to influence and misinform become more complex and difficult to detect.