If you're an Instagram user and have noticed a dip in photoshopped images on your feed, don't be alarmed. The Facebook-owned app has started flagging digitally altered images as "false information", and this includes photoshopped pictures that have been altered to look aesthetically pleasing.
Say 'no' to photoshop
The new feature is part of Facebook's efforts to combat the spread of fake news and misinformation. While Instagram hasn't clearly outlined what it considers as "false information," a post will have to go through third-party fact-checkers for approval before it gets uploaded on the platform.
However, this has raised concerns among photographers and left them wondering whether the system is taking things too far with its policing. One such photographer is San Francisco-based Toby Harriman who came across an image posted by Instagram user MIX Society while browsing through his Instagram feed and found that the image had been labelled as "false" and shared it on Facebook.
The image in question is of a man standing atop rainbow-hued mountains, which quite clearly is not a real place and evidently altered for artistic reasons. "Looks like Instagram x Facebook will start tagging false photos/digital art," Harriman wrote.
A Twitter user with the handle @LaBeautyologist also came across a similar warning on Instagram displayed under a post about the devastating bushfires in Australia.
What happens once a post is flagged?
Once a post is flagged, Instagram makes it harder to find by removing it from the Explore feed, Hashtag pages, and is automatically flagged in future posts.
Instagram has said that it uses "a combination of feedback from our community and technology" to identify which photos to pass onto third-party independent fact-checkers and If those fact-checkers determine that a photo is fake, it's hidden behind a warning message before anyone can view it. This means that while the post might still be visible in a feed or a user's profile, when one clicks on it to view it in full screen, users will see a warning as shown in the post above.
"Interesting to see this and curious if it's a bit too far," Harriman added. "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."