Whilst it may be on a noble quest to eradicate fake news, many are concerned for digital artists. Is Instagram’s flagging of Photoshop-enhanced images protective or hypocritical?
Where do you get your news from? Do you flick on BBC Breakfast at 7am whilst eating your Cinnamon Grahams? Do you scroll your chosen outlet whilst on the tube? Or, like many of us, do you see it on social media? Ofcom reports that while television is the biggest source of news for most of us in the UK, social media is the only outlet with an increasing readership for news stories. But with the threat of fake news, social media has a growing responsibility to fact-check reports before enabling publication.
Yesterday the news broke that San Francisco-based photographer Toby Harriman noticed Instagram had installed a feature that flags users when a post on their feed has been manipulated. And whilst it’s all very well trying to create a more transparent platform, what about those using Instagram to publish digitally-edited artwork? Should they be penalised by way of lack of publicity on hashtag searches and ‘Discover’ pages? Instagram is, after all, an app to share images manipulated with its filters and editing tools. The new function has posed quite the Catch-22.
In Harriman’s case, the ‘hidden’ image was posted by MIX Society and displayed a man standing on top of rainbow-coloured mountains, a clear edit for artistic purposes. On the matter Harriman said on Facebook, “I have a huge respect for digital art and don’t want to have to click through barriers to see it.” Where Instagram may be trying to solve misinformation, it’s in fact harnessing the publicity of artists, which considering it began as a photography-sharing app makes it somewhat hypocritical.
image credits @mixsociety_