In an attempt to prevent the “real-time spread of potentially harmful content” through its platform, photo sharing app Instagram has temporarily removed the “Recent” tab from hashtag pages ahead of the US Presidential election.
The change was announced through the Instagram Comms Twitter account (the irony…), where the company said that it will be making some changes that “make it harder for people to come across possible misinformation on Instagram […] as we near the U.S. elections.” First up: removing the “Recent” tab from hashtag pages.
Starting today, for people in the U.S. we will temporarily remove the “Recent” tab from hashtag pages. We’re doing this to reduce the real-time spread of potentially harmful content that could pop up around the election.
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) October 29, 2020
This is cited as a “temporary” change that went into effect yesterday, although Instagram does not specify when the Recent tab will be turned back on. Ostensibly this will happen after the election on November 3rd, but given the contentious political climate in the US and widespread fear that election results could be challenged in court, it’s possible the feature won’t be back for some time.
Facebook CEO and Instagram’s owner Mark Zuckerberg voiced this exact concern during an earnings call yesterday, saying:
I’m worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of civil unrest across the country. Given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we’ve done before.
Translation: this is probably one of many changes coming to the world’s most popular photo sharing app as we near election day.