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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.

5Instagram's 'related hashtag' feature appeared to favour Donald Trump over Joe BidenCredit: Splash News

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.

5Related hashtags for Joe Biden included phrases like #trump2020 and #neverbidenCredit: Buzzfeed 5Related hashtags for Donald Trump turfed up no negative comments or mention of BidenCredit: Buzzfeed

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.

5Related hashtags, which appear in search results, displayed negative related hashtags for US presidential candidate Joe Biden, but hid them for TrumpCredit: Reuters

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.

5Instagram blamed the error on a "bug" and said it had disabled the feature while it worked on a fixCredit: Alamy

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
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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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Inherited Neanderthal Genes Increase Severe COVID-19 Symptoms

Severe COVID-19 symptoms could be linked to inherited Neanderthal genes, according to researchers in Europe.

Looking to understand the drastic difference of severity in symptoms between those infected, researchers Hugo Zeberg and Svante Paabo began studying the genes of COVID patients experiencing respiratory failure, according to the international journal Nature.

Accredited Social Health Activist workers sit while registering the names of residents coming for Covid-19 coronavirus tests at a temporary collection center in Hyderabad on September 30, 2020. (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Zeberg and Paabo identified a gene cluster, a haplotype, that most likely originated from Neanderthals. They found half the people in South Asia have this haplotype, while 16% of the European population and almost none of the population in Africa and East Asia possess it. (RELATED: Humans’ Link To Neanderthals May Be Closer Than Ever, Study Says)

In Bangladesh, 63% of the population has this Neanderthal haplotype, according to the study.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the nation during a remote press conference at Downing Street on September 30, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Hill – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

People who originated from Bangladesh are two times more likely to die from COVID-19 in the UK, according to a study from Public Health England. (RELATED: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Orders New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Surge)

Diabetes, weakened immune systems, severe obesity and older age are some of the risk factors associated with COVID. People ages 85 and older are most at risk for developing serious symptoms. (RELATED: Firefighter’s Union Sues New Jersey Over Handling Of COVID-19)

Svante Paabo receives the Princess of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research 2018 from King Felipe VI of Spain on October 19, 2018 in Oviedo, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

Paabo, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, said the inherited haplotype’s impact on COVID-19 must be researched quickly, according to the AP.

“It is striking that the genetic heritage from the Neanderthals has such tragic consequences during the current pandemic,” Paabo said in a statement.

The Director of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology at the University of Kiel, Germany, Andre Franke, said this study does not change COVID-19 treatment, according to the AP.

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