‘Malgorithm’: Group claims Instagram promotes conspiracy theories

“Instagram’s recommendation algorithm sends users down paths of radicalization that are increasingly difficult to escape,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of CCDH.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) published the findings of a new study Tuesday concluding that Big Tech censorship has not gone far enough and that Facebook-owned Instagram should do more to rein in misinformation.

According to the CCDH report, “Malgorithm,” Instagram’s algorithm has made recommendations to users that include “dangerous misinformation” about Covid-19, vaccines, election results, and conspiracy theories.

“We share the goal of reducing the spread of misinformation, but this research is five months out of date and uses an extremely small sample size of just 104 posts,” Facebook said in response to the report.

“This is in stark contrast to the 12 million pieces of harmful misinformation related to vaccines and Covid-19 we’ve removed from Facebook and Instagram since the start of the pandemic,” the statement said.

Facebook said that it has directed people to government websites more than 10 million times. “We’re also working on improvements to Instagram Search, to make accounts that discourage vaccines harder to find,” the statement said.

In one portion of the CCDH study, four volunteers followed 10 Instagram accounts which were said to promote anti-vaccine content. In September and October of last year, the volunteers received 30 recommendations identified by CCDH as containing “misinformation or hatred.”

“Of those 30 recommendations, 19 primarily contained misinformation about Covid, while nine concerned misinformation about vaccines and two promoted elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Two of the posts volunteers identified contained anti-Semitic imagery,” the report said.

Of the anti-Semitic images, “The first uses the Israeli flag to imply that Jews control the government, while the second, from a different account, uses the flag to link Israel to mask wearing.”

The CCDH recommended that Instagram stop suggesting content to users “until it can show that it is no longer promoting dangerous misinformation.”

The organization recommended that Instagram exclude posts about Covid, vaccines, or contentious elections; maintain a blacklist of accounts known to spread misinformation; remove verified status from known anti-vaxxers; and display corrective posts to users exposed to misinformation.

“Should social media companies continue their pattern of negligence, governments must use every power – including new legislation, fines and criminal prosecutions – to stop the harms being created. Lies cost lives,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of CCDH.

Ahmed, who was active in Britain’s left-leaning Labour Party before founding the CCDH, is co-author of the book The New Serfdom: The Triumph of Conservative Ideas and How to Defeat Them.