Instagram is trying to tackle the spread of misinformation and fake news by rolling-out a clever new feature that detects forged photographs. It’s a clever system and should stop so-called Deep Fakes and the like from going viral. Of course, that’s a very worthwhile cause.
Unfortunately, a number of photographers’ artwork and images appear to have been blocked by Instagram. While it seems artists’ pages are safe for the moment, accounts created to share striking images – as well as media outlets – have seen their recreations of the Photoshop-enhanced images blocked by the strict AI-powered solution.
That seems a little harsh. After all, plenty of impressionist artwork could be seen as fake news – Picasso wasn’t trying to spread the false impression that most people had ears stuck to the side of their nose and eyes on their chin – however, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to see it filling up your Feed on Instagram.
San Francisco-based photographer Toby Harriman highlighted the issue when a photograph of man looking at vibrant rainbow-coloured mountains (something that, to be fair to Instagram moderators, don’t usually crop-up in nature) was flagged as “False Information”. In a warning that accompanied the post, Instagram listed: “The primary claims in this information are factually inaccurate.”
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According to the Facebook-owned social network, its newly-unveiled system leverages “a combination of feedback from our community and technology” to identify which photos should be passed onto independent third-party fact-checkers. If those fact-checkers decide that a photo is fake, it will be hidden behind a warning message before anyone can view it. This is to prevent the image being seen without the expression permission of the viewer – who has to click through a few warnings to actually get to the original image.
“Interesting to see this and curious if it’s a bit too far,” Toby Harriman commented in the Facebook post about the issue. “As much as I do love it to help better associate real vs Photoshop. I also have a huge respect for digital art and don’t want to have to click through barriers to see it.”
The news comes as Instagram added a number of its own editing tools to its Boomerang app, which, ironically, is designed to make video footage much less lifelike and more impressionistic.