New Filters Launched For DMs & Broader Blocking Features
After significant pressure from Instagram users, the platform has announced new measures designed to combat DM abuse.
Fighting hateful and hurtful messages is an issue that has vexed Insta and owners Facebook for some time now. Algorithms and humans have been employed to tackle the problem, but neither has been a runaway success.
Now there’s a new kid on the block, which Instagram hope will fight to stem the tide of abuse.
Offensive word filter
Instagram doesn’t police DMs the way it policies public comments, and naturally, this has led to those with aggressive agendas flooding inboxes. However, its new tool should take the edge off things.
“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.”
Users will be able to turn on the tool by going to privacy settings > hidden words. Instagram has worked with anti-bullying and anti-discrimination organisations to develop a list of offensive terms; users will also be able to add their own words, phrases or emojis to this list.
Recidivism will be blocked
All DM requests that contain any of these phrases, emojis or words will be filtered into a hidden requests folder. People can still choose to access these messages and will still be able to accept, delete or report message requests.
Additionally, Instagram will make it harder for someone you’ve already blocked to contact you via a new account. In the future, whenever you block someone, you’ll be given the option to block their account and any new ones they may create.
“We also don’t allow recidivism, which means if someone’s account is disabled for breaking our rules, we would remove any new accounts they create whenever we become aware of it.”
Public comments will also be controlled more tightly. Public accounts can now decide if they allow the whole platform to comment on posts or just people they follow/have as followers.
Instagram is also beginning to hide common, intentional misspelling or offensive words.
These new tools and weapons in the fight to make Instagram a more peaceful place are useful and will help to manage some degree of trolling, but they still place the onus on the person receiving abuse to make sure their hidden words are turned on or that they’ve remembered to disable comments.
Big brands are becoming cautious
Facebook owns a platform that has an abuse problem, and while these changes are welcome, forcing the victim of abuse to take ownership of prevention shouldn’t be the only way solve this issue.
Big brands have started to decide that enough is enough. Starbucks is in the process of evaluating its presence on Facebook and may even terminate the relationship. It’s previously taken part in the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign, which saw them stop advertising on the platform to force Facebook to crack down on racist and hateful abuse.
“Starbucks is in the process of evaluating their organic presence on FB, and whether they should continue to have a presence on the platform at all.”
The coffee giant isn’t alone. The English Premier League recently carried out a boycott of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from 30 April to 3 May to protest social media companies’ reluctance to fight online hate.
Whether these changes will have any impact will be seen in the coming months, but for companies like Starbucks and organisations like the Premier League, it may come too late.