The thin line between information and misinformation on Instagram: reflecting on hyperreality
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This thesis draws on the theory formulated by Jean Baudrillard to explore the meaning generated on Instagram independent fact-checkers in public comment sections. To understand users’ responses, this research undertook a thematic analysis of 100 comments on Instagram posts claimed false by third-party fact-checkers. The analysis focuses on users’ comments under two different categories of content: serious (political propaganda) and fun (entertainment/memes) informative posts. Through Baudrillard’s lens of the hyperreal, Instagram appears as a successful medium for misinformation, since every content on the platform can be seen as simulation, hence unverifiable truth. The findings of this study highlight the importance of context when interpreting information shared on social media. Fact-checkers fighting misinformation on Instagram merge with the medium as any other content and become part of the hyperreal. Therefore, I argue that Instagram can be a sound example that reflects the hyperreal characteristic of present-day Western capitalistic societies.