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Instagram, Facebook, misinformation, Joe Biden, Donald Trump

Instagram accidentally told a “small number” of users the wrong date for the US election, as Facebook vowed to crack down on any users exploiting its platforms to spread misinformation about voting or the election (including which day it’s on).

On the morning of the election, a message was still appearing on some US Instagram user’s apps informing them that “tomorrow is election day”.

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“While we turned off the ‘Tomorrow is Election Day’ notice last night, it was cached for a small group of people if their app hadn’t been restarted. It’s resolving itself as people restart. Today, people will get ‘It’s the Last Day to Vote’ at the top of feed,” Instagram said in response to tweets highlighting the issue.

Caching is designed to make computers run faster by keeping frequently requested data in a location where it can be more quickly served to the end user — for instance elements of the website you’re reading this article on have probably been “cached” by your browser so it loads quicker next time you click on it.

Instagram responded to a number of tweets with a similar message but is yet to respond to some posters’ requests for further detail, including how big a “small group of people” is to a company with close to three billion users.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has been trying to avoid a repeat of the events surrounding the 2016 election, vowing to crack down on misinformation being spread on its platforms in the lead up to the election.

This includes things like the “voting centre” providing official information and plans to flag any tweets on election night where a candidate tries to claim victory before an official result is in.

Twitter is also trying to combat misinformation as the election results start coming in.

On Tuesday night it briefly suspended the Twitter account of Aussie satirists The Chaser and took away their verified blue tick following a tweet impersonating Donald Trump.

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