According to a report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Instagram was the Russian government’s most preferred method of manipulating voters during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections. Although it was known that Russian hackers had utilised social media to disseminate their propaganda during the elections, it wasn’t known that Instagram, in particular, had played that big of a role.

More specifically, the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) received more interaction and voter engagement through its Instagram posts. According to the three bodies (Canfield Research, Columbia University, and New Knowledge) that conducted the report for the Senate Intelligence Committee, Instagram produced an astounding 187 million interactions, leaving Facebook (77 million) and Twitter (73 million) behind.

The research team analysed data from 2015 to 2018. They discovered that IRA created false accounts that posted messages criticising the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in favour of Donald Trump. Around 40 percent of the false accounts gathered 10,000 followers, with 12 accounts each achieving over 100,000, and the biggest attracting over 300,000 followers.

The above number suggests that the image- and video-driven Instagram captures people’s attention easier. The application, which uses hashtags to categorise and recommend material that fits users’ interests, could be the ideal ground to attempt an institutional shift in people’s perspectives.