Instagram bans 'related hashtag' feature after it was deemed to favour Donald Trump

INSTAGRAM temporarily blocked a key feature on Wednesday after it appeared to favour Donald Trump.

Related hashtags, which appear in search results, displayed negative related hashtags for US presidential candidate Joe Biden, but hid them for Trump.

Instagram blamed the error on a "bug" and said it had disabled the feature while it worked on a fix.

"A technical error caused a number of hashtags to not show related hashtags," Instagram told Buzzfeed News.

"We've disabled this feature while we investigate."

Related hashtags appear above search results for other hashtags. A search for #ChristianoRonaldo, for instance, may suggest #Football, or #LeoMessi.

The feature algorithmically pushes people towards related content they might like, but for at least two months it wasn't working properly.

A Buzzfeed investigation found that related hashtags for searches of Joe Biden included phrases like #trump2020 and #neverbiden.

Related hashtags for Donald Trump, on the other hand, turfed up no negative comments or mention of Biden or his campaign.

Because many of Biden's hashtags were derogatory, concerns were raised that Instagram was favouring Trump.

Instagram said the bug prevented related hashtags did not appear on the tens of thousands of hashtag pages.

It's not clear what the source of the problem was or why it only affected certain hashtags.

By pointing the finger at a bug, Instagram suggested the issue was not fuelled by political bias.

The problem is likely to reignite the debate surrounding the role of social media companies in the upcoming US presidential election.

An outraged Trump roasted Twitter in May for labelling his tweets with "fact-checks" for the first time after he posted about "rigged" mail-in votes.

He fumed that the social networking service was "interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election" and said he would not tolerate it.

Last month, Facebook flagged a Trump post warning of a "corrupt election" by re-directing users to "official voting info."

Experts have blasted Facebook and Twitter for allowing Russia to carry out a “sophisticated” hijacking campaign during the US election in 2016.

Instagram – the key facts

Here's what you need to know…

  • Instagram is a social network for sharing photos and videos
  • It was created back in October 2010 as an iPhone-exclusive app
  • A separate version for Android devices was released 18 months later
  • The app rose to popularity thanks to its filters system, which lets you quickly edit your photos with cool effects
  • When it first launched, users could only post square 1:1 ratio images, but that rule was changed in 2015
  • In 2012, Facebook bought Instagram for $1billion in cash and stock
  • In 2018, some analysts believe the app is worth closer to $100billion
  • In October 2015, Instagram confirmed that more than 40billion photos had been uploaded to the app
  • And in 2018, Instagram revealed that more than a billion people were using the app every month

In other news, a new iPhone update lets you see if apps are spying on you.

 There's a new iPhone homscreen in iOS 14, and fans are divided over it.

Find out about all the new iOS 14 features here.

What changes would you like to see made to Instagram? Let us know in the comments!

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