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How Russia learned to regram

In the past year of discussions about how Russia uses social media, Instagram has largely escaped not
December 18 · Issue #49 · View online
The Interface
In the past year of discussions about how Russia uses social media, Instagram has largely escaped notice. Now it’s overdue for some attention, argues this piece in the New York Times
Congress took Facebook, Twitter and Google to task in October for allowing the spread of Russian disinformation on their platforms during the 2016 election campaign, but little attention was paid to Instagram. Some researchers believe that the platform — which has 800 million monthly users, 470 million more than Twitter — is as full of disinformation and propaganda as any other social media service.
“Instagram is a major distributor and redistributor of I.R.A. propaganda that’s at the very least on par with Twitter,” according to a report published last month by Jonathan Albright, research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
To date the company has removed 170 accounts from Russia-linked accounts, responsible for 120,000 posts. One researcher quoted here said those posts received more than 2.5 million interactions and may have been seen by 145 million people.
What’s interesting for me here is that this happened despite Instagram’s relatively weak sharing features. The company has resisted calls to add native “regramming” — an equivalent of Twitter’s retweet button, which shares a post to all of your followers. But regramming happens nonetheless, in part thanks to third-party apps built just for that purpose. And Russians are among those exploiting it:
Within Instagram, users often share one another’s posts, a process known as “regramming,” or copy and post images they have spotted from other social media platforms. That makes it difficult to entirely eliminate an image from the site.
Instagram had a monster 2017, adding more than 200 million users. There’s no question that it will be a rich target for bad actors in 2018. I’ll be curious to see how Instagram’s product team responds.

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Twitter suspended Britain First leaders Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen in a massive hate purge
Twitter under fire after suspending Egyptian journalist Wael Abbas
Facebook law enforcement takedowns quadrupled in six months because of a school shooting video
Google Changes Rules to Purge News That Masks Country of Origin
What Facebook’s intensely personal fight with a former executive says about social media’s future
Sharing the News in a Polarized Congress
Facebook is clamping down on posts that ask people for ‘Likes’ or shares
WhatsApp ordered to stop sharing user data with Facebook
HQ Trivia’s founders are facing fundraising roadblocks after investors learned of alleged bad behavior
Snapchat is still the network of choice for U.S. teens — and Instagram is Facebook’s best shot at catching up
You Give Up a Lot of Privacy Just Opening Emails. Here's How to Stop It
Employee Complaints About Snap Personnel Chief Led to Outside Inquiry
Bloomberg's TicToc 24/7 news channel launches as Twitter doubles down on live video
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Facebook Conceded It Might Make You Feel Bad. Here’s How to Interpret That.
Why is Facebook admitting that social networks can be bad for our health?
Social Media Can’t Stop the Weaponization of Bad Faith
And finally ...
A Digital Message in a Bottle Was Waiting For Him
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