While the platform has been fast to censor nudity and anything remotely erotic or sexual, Instagram themselves admitted last month that the app is “too slow” when it comes to addressing harmful content and interactions. The company then went on to announce the rollout of the platform’s new anti-bullying features.
Instagram’s first new anti-bullying feature is powered by A.I and aims to ‘encourage positive interactions’ by prompting users before posting a comment that may be considered offensive. Before a user gets to post their comment, Instagram will ask: ‘Are you sure you want to post this?’ While a simple prompt might not deter the staunchest of trolls, it does give the average user a chance at ‘second thoughts’ and could help decrease the amount of ‘comments-of-passion.’ The person on the receiving end of the comment will only be notified if the ‘troll’ decides to confirm their post despite being prompted.
The second Instagram feature is much more useful and stands a chance to have the biggest impact by giving the power back to those being bullied. The feature is called Restrict and will enable users to protect their account from unwanted interactions, without going as far as blocking someone.
We’ve heard from young people in our community that they’re reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation. And some of these actions also make it difficult for a target to keep track of their bully’s behaviour.” Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram
Once a person has been restricted by an account, they will no longer be able to see when or if that user is online, or if they’ve read their DMs. Comments by restricted people will also only be visible to that person and not to the public and will have to be approved by the account holder before other people can see them. Furthermore, the restricted individual won’t know that they’re comments have been hidden from the public.
Although Restrict has not been rolled out just yet, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri confirmed it would be coming soon. Giving power back to the user, in any way possible is definitely a step in the right direction.