Instagram removes feature for US users before election day

The image sharing platform has temporarily removed its 'Recent' tab to limit the spread of misinformation

Instagram temporarily removes ‘Recent’ tab from hashtag listings to stop the spread of election misinformation. Unsplash
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With only a few days to go until the US election, Instagram users in the United States might have noticed something different about their account.

That's because the popular image sharing platform has temporarily paused "Recent" search listings on accounts based in the US.

The Facebook-owned platform announced the decision on Twitter.

Instagram said that it was temporarily removing the Recent tab from hashtag pages in a bid to "reduce the real-time spread of potentially harmful content that could pop up around the election."

Instagram's Recent tab shows the latest content on the site labelled with a particular hashtag, regardless of whether the content is relevant to the topic or not.

The five-day suspension of the service will apply to all hashtags, and not only those pertaining to the election. It's an attempt by the social media platform to limit how quickly misinformation can spread.

Some users were not happy about the move. One Twitter user said it could negatively impact small businesses and artists.

However, researchers have previously warned automated amplification can lead to the rapid spread of misinformation on the social media platform.

By removing the most recent categorisation, Instagram will show users "Top" results only. These are based on engagement and relevance and are less easily manipulated than listings under the "Recent" tab.

The social media company previously said it would take several measures to try to fight misinformation during the 2020 election.

Four years ago, when Trump first won the Presidency, Instagram's parent company Facebook was accused of collecting data on social media users without their consent, and then using this personal information to target people for political advertising.