Instagram has announced two new tools with which it aims to combat online bullying — one to prevent bullying, and the other that empowers the targets of bullying. And with both the tools, Instagram is trying to limit bad behavior without outrightly blocking posts or banning users.
Flagging hateful comments before they are posted
The first feature, which is meant to prevent bullying, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to flag comments before they are posted. When a user types in something which “may be considered offensive”, the AI prompts users with “Are you sure you want to post this?” and then gives the option to “undo” their comment before they post it.
You’d think that someone who is spiteful enough to type something offensive would just go ahead and post it and ignore the “undo” prompt, however, Instagram head Adam Mosseri says in the official Instagram blog, that in early tests, his team found that the prompt “encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect.”
Instead of blocking, unfollowing, Restrict unwanted attention
The second feature, that aims at empowering the victims of bullying is the ability to “restrict” unwanted attention. Instagram says it will start testing this feature soon.
“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, especially if they interact with their bully in real life,” Mosseri wrote.
Therefore, Instagram will soon allow its users to protect their account from unwanted interactions with a feature called Restrict.
If you Restrict a user, only they will be able to see their comments on your posts, unless you approve their comments and allow it to be visible to other users. Restricted people won’t also be able to see when you’re active on Instagram or when you’ve read their direct messages.