Not long ago, Instagram rolled out a feature that flags fake photos. The main goal is to remove misinformation and fake news, but the feature seems to have gone too far. It’s now hiding all photoshopped photos, flagging them as “false information.” This could have implications for everyone who uses Instagram to showcase their digital artwork and image composites.
San Francisco photographer, Toby Harriman, recently saw the new Instagram’s feature in action for the first time. He was scrolling his main feed and saw a hidden image flagged as “false information.” When he revealed it, it turned out to be a digital art: a photo of a man standing on rainbow-colored mountains, posted by MIX Society.
When I viewed the MIX Society’s profile, the photo was visible among others. But once I clicked on it, here’s what I got:
Toby writes that this is interesting to see, but he’s wondering if it’s a bit too far. “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,” he writes.
It’s good that you can reveal the flagged photos if you want to see them. However, these “false information” images are removed from Explore and Hashtag pages, and they’re automatically flagged in future posts. Instagram wrote about it when the feature was announced.
It sure is a bit worrying to see that Instagram’s fact-checker hides digital art. On the other hand, some other photos from this account can still be viewed even though they’re obviously photoshopped.
The only difference I notice is that other images have a hashtag #conceptart, it’s clearly stated that they were photoshopped, or there’s a clear credit to the artist. This “rainbow mountain” photo is the only one that doesn’t have credits or a statement that it’s digital artwork.
So, if you’re making collages, digital art or composites, it’s sad to know that your work could be flagged and hidden from viewers. However, it seems like the solution is to just write that it was photoshopped, even if it’s obvious. I can’t be sure, that’s just my impression, but better safe than sorry.