Instagram previously blocked hashtags that contained false information, like #vaccinescauseautism and #vaccinescauseaids. Now the company will also block hashtags that do not necessarily contain debunked information but are used by anti-growers to spread demonstrably false claims. For instance, if groups started using the hashtag # vaccines1
When a hashtag is blocked by Instagram, it makes it basically impossible to find content or organize around. Attempting to click on a banned hashtag will not produce any results and the hashtag will not come up when users search for it. Parent company has taken similar steps to limit the spread of misinformation about vaccines.
Instagram said it is also looking for new ways to combat fake news. The company already has a pop-up message when people search for hashtags related to opioids or self-harm and is exploring a similar one for vaccine-related topics. The company said the process is still in the early stages as it continues to sort out its policies in action potentially harmful content and accounts. Earlier this week, Instagram announced it will create new, universal guidelines for how accounts are handled while also giving users new tools to appeal takedowns.