Instagram puts online bullying in the crosshairs with the launch of two new products

In response to growing concerns that social media platforms aren’t doing enough to combat online bullying, photo-sharing giant Instagram has released two new products.

The platform hopes Restrict and Comment Warning will help users, particularly young people, feel they have more tools at their disposal to combat any harassment they may be experiencing online.

Adam Mosseri: Bullying is a challenge many face

In a blog posted to Instagram, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said the platform is committed to helping the social media industry combat the potential dangers that exist in online interactions.

“Our mission is to connect you with the people and things you love, which only works if people feel comfortable expressing themselves on Instagram. We know bullying is a challenge many face, particularly young people. We are committed to leading the industry in the fight against online bullying, and we are rethinking the whole experience of Instagram to meet that commitment,” said Mosseri.

Mosseri goes on to say the two new developments are just “steps on a longer path”.

Instagram’s Restrict feature in action (Click to enlarge)

Restrict will allow users to stop receiving comments from people without notifying them. This is opposed to the current block, unfollow or report features which allow the potential bully to identify that the user has taken action.

Once a user has marked another user as Restricted, comments by that person will only be visible to them. Restricted users also won’t be able to see when the person who has taken the action is active on Instagram, or if their direct messages have been read. When a user receives a comment from a restricted person it will appear behind a sensitivity screen, so they don’t have to read it before approving or deleting it.

“We wanted to create a feature that allows people to control their Instagram experience, without notifying someone who may be targeting them,” said Mosseri.

Instagram’s Comment Warning feature will give users a chance to rethink their comments (Click to enlarge)

Comment Warning will encourage positive interactions using AI. The feature, which began rolling out across the last week, will notify a user that their comment may be considered offensive before its been posted.

Instagram hopes this will allow users to think about their interactions before they take place and give them a chance to pick a more positive way of commenting.

“As our community grows, so does our investment in technology. This is especially crucial for teens since they are less likely to report online bullying even when they are the ones who experience it the most,” said Mosseri.


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