Instagram announces new features to help counter bullying

Ann Santiago
July 10, 2019

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.

Instagram is cracking down on bullying with two new features announced earlier today.

The social media network announced two new features on Monday created to combat negative interactions on the popular app. Instagram hasn't shared any details as to what it's doing to curb that, and hasn't specified if the feature is available for languages other than English.

"We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves", said Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, in a blog post. Now Instagram is officially releasing an AI-powered feature that will let users know if they're about to post an offensive comment. So when someone bullies you or posts offensive comments, you can restrict them and their comments will only show up to you and the person who posted the comment. Also, "restricted" people won't be able to see when you're active on Instagram or when you've read their direct messages.

Instagram will soon trial a new AI-powered system for dealing with online bullying and abuse. Instagram already has a good record of introducing such features to keep users safe from online harassers, and it's taking further actions to vent users from getting bullied on Instagram.

According to Mosseri, "this intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification".

Instagram said often people don't block, unfollow, or report their bullies, because "it could escalate the situation".

There have been growing calls for regulation of such platforms over the spread of hate speech and fake news - including allegations of states using social media to try and influence elections in rival countries - as well as more oversight of how they collect and use customer data. "Some of these actions also make it hard for a target to keep track of their bully's behaviour".

The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app announced in April during Facebook's F8 developer conference it was experimenting with new features to combat bullying.

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