Instagram is taking new steps to root out bots and other accounts trying to manipulate its platform. The company says it will start asking some users to verify their identities if it suspects “potential inauthentic behavior.”
Instagram stresses that the new policy won’t affect most users, but that it will target accounts that seem suspicious. “This includes accounts potentially engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior, or when we see the majority of someone's followers are in a different country to their location, or if we find signs of automation, such as bot accounts,” the company writes.
Under the new rules, these accounts will be asked to verify their identity by submitting a government ID. If they don’t, the company may down-rank their posts in Instagram’s feed or disable their account entirely.
The change comes as Facebook and Instagram have stepped up their efforts to fight misinformation ahead of the 2020 election. Facebook already has a similar policy that requires some people who run popular pages to verify their identities.
And Instagram in particular has faced scrutiny for not doing enough to prevent its platform from being used for election meddling. A report from the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian election interference in 2016 found that Instagram was “the most effective tool used by the IRA to conduct its information operations campaign." By weeding out bots and other “inauthentic behavior” Instagram is trying to avoid a similar fate in 2020.