Photo courtesy / Screenshot from a Facebook and Instagram user

Instagram and Facebook will begin warning users of sharing false information.

Fake news alert or censorship?

December 26, 2019

Regulating speech is difficult even under the best of conditions, and the internet is far from the best of conditions. In Oct. 2019, the Senate Intelligence Community called Instagram the “most effective tool” in manipulating the 2016 election. In response, Facebook and Instagram recently unveiled a new feature to help users identify false information and prevent the distribution of it.

If you share something that might not be true, they will get a pop up saying, “Independent fact-checkers say this post includes false information. Your post will include a notice saying it’s false. Are you sure you want to share?” You can still choose to share it, but the post will bear the false information label.

The changes are meant to deter election interference and “protect the democratic process.” It is an attempt to stop bogus info from going viral.

“In addition to clearer labels, we’re also working to take faster action to prevent misinformation from going viral, especially given that quality reporting and fact-checking takes time,” Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, wrote in a blog post titled “Helping to Protect the 2020 US Elections.”

While all of this is done with the intent to do good, Instagram is regulating information presented to the public, which is censorship and violates a person’s first amendment right.

Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or “inconvenient.” Censorship can be conducted by the government, private institutions, and corporations.

You are not always going to have algorithms and apps at your fingertips, but you can do your own fact-checking by looking at the source of the information to see if it comes from a reputable site or account. Social media should not regulate what information I see simply because they have believed it to be incorrect; a person is completely capable of doing so on their own.

Bias towards certain news information will always prompt those who disagree to speak out against it, as it is their constitutional right. However, just as it is their right to express themselves, it is my own right whether or not I agree or believe it based on being able to access that same information.

About the Writer
Photo of Layla Boyer
Layla Boyer, News Editor

Layla Boyer is a senior and has been in newspaper for four years. Her favorite part of newspaper is being able to interact and get to know so many different...

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