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Instagram’s Fight Against Bullying

9th July 2019

Social Media has opened up a huge network of people that are able to share content and communicate with each other, however, it has also created a new way for bullies to target people, known as cyber-bullying.

Instagram, being a photo-sharing platform, is a prime target for cyber-bullies who not only make abusive comments on posts but have also been known to create “hate accounts” targeting specific users. They have already made efforts in creating text classifiers that can identify obvious abusive words in comments but bullying is far more complex than that alone and affects each user differently.

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, spoke about one of the new features in a public post yesterday; “In the last few days, we started rolling out a new feature powered by AI that notifies people when their comment may be considered offensive before it’s posted. This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification. From early tests of this feature, we have found that it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect.”

Not only have Instagram started questioning users if they want to proceed with potentially abusive comments, but they are also going to give users who experience abuse from certain accounts the ability to restrict unwanted comments. The company are looking to give users more control over their posts by introducing a new ‘Restrict’ feature which means any user you ‘restrict’ can still comment on your posts but these will not be seen by anyone else but them unless you approve them. A ‘restricted’ user will also not be able to see when you are online or if you have read their direct messages or not. This new feature is similar to blocking but without the restricted party knowing anything has changed.

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There are many reports of abusive behaviour on Instagram, spanning across all ages and all walks of life. It has been made even more apparent with the influx of Influencers using the channel and experiencing abuse themselves which a lot of them openly speak about with their followers, however, it has led some users to close their accounts.

Ultimately, according to Mosseri “Our mission is to connect you with the people and things you love, which only works if people feel comfortable expressing themselves on Instagram.” Therefore these measures are to allow people to feel comfortable and safe on the platform.

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