Instagram starts labeling ‘state-controlled media’ accounts and posts

Bangkok, Thailand - July 27, 2019 : Instagram user liking his own photo on Instagram.


Wachiwit via Getty Images

Over the last week, Instagram has started labeling state-backed media, following through on a policy the company’s parent Facebook announced last October and started implementing on its own social media network this past June.

The labels were first spotted by journalist Casey Michel. Users in the US will see them appear on profile pages and posts. Tapping on the labels leads to a support page where you can find out more about the policy. Some of the publications where you’ll see the label include Redfish, In the Now and Soapbox.

“Instagram defines ‘state-controlled media’ as media outlets that Instagram believes may be partially or wholly under the editorial control of their government, based on our own research and assessment against a set of criteria developed for this purpose,” the company says on the page. “We hold these accounts to a higher standard of transparency because we believe they combine the influence of a media organization with the backing of a state.”

Facebook says it plans to add the labels to Instagram ads “in the months to come.” When the company detailed the policy in June, it said it had consulted with 65 experts to create an internal criteria for deciding when the “state-controlled” label is appropriate. As you can see from the screenshots, some of those publications have updated their profiles to dispute the labels. They have the option to appeal them in an official capacity.

Instagram is rolling the labels out mere weeks before the 2020 presidential election on November 3rd. In the lead up to the election, Facebook has consistently faced criticism for its mostly hands-off approach to misinformation on its platforms. At the end of September, Jen O’Malley Dillon, Joe Biden’s campaign manager, called the company “the nation’s foremost propagator of disinformation.”

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