Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture. File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic
Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture. File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Instagram is introducing tools just for bullies - this is how it will work

By Masabata Mkwananzi Time of article published Apr 21, 2021

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Instagram has introduced new tools to help protect users from abusive content, whether it is racial slurs, sexist, or homophobic.

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app comes up with new ways to protect users from seeing abusive direct messages (DMs) altogether and also the ability to prevent users you have previously blocked from contacting you from a new account.

“We’re introducing a new tool which, when turned on, will automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases, and emojis, so you never have to see them,” the company said in a blog post.

Instagram stated that the new tool will focus on DM requests because they believe this is where users receive abusive messages when compared to your regular DM inbox where friends will send you messages.

In February, IOL Tech reported that Instagram was protecting its users from hate speech by issuing tougher consequences to those who use hate speech in DMs. This new tool is an update that continues to combat hate speech on the platform.

With this new tool, the company said users can turn both comment and DM request filters on and off in a new dedicated section of your Privacy Settings called Hidden Words.

For this feature, the company says it has worked with leading anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organisations to develop a predefined list of offensive terms that will be filtered from DM requests when the feature is turned on. Instagram will also give its users the option to create their own custom list of words, phrases, or emojis that they do not want to see in their DM requests.

Instagram added that DM requests that contain offensive words, phrases, emojis from the predefined list or custom list created by users will be automatically filtered into a separate hidden requests folder. If a user wishes to open the folder, they may do so by tapping to uncover the messages with the option delete it, report it, or accepting the message.

The company has reiterated that the new feature is designed to help users, while also respecting their privacy. And because of that, all message filtering will take place on your own device, meaning this feature will not report any content back to the companies server unless a user chooses to report it to Instagram.

The company said it will start rolling out this feature in several countries in the coming weeks and will look to expand to more countries over the next few months.


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