About time, Instagram. We’re all still reeling from the protests last summer, and all of the crimes still being committed against people of color. Instagram has finally caught up with the times. The app is making changes to protect users against hate speech and abuse. A while back Instagram made some changes to include strict penalties towards people who send threatening or abusive DM’s. Now even more changes are being made to prevent people from seeing hateful messages in the first place. Here’s a breakdown of their new policies and how they will protect people.
Preventing Hate Speech in DM’s
According to the Instagram website, “combatting abuse is a complex challenge and there isn’t one single step we can take to eliminate it completely. For example, we know that many in our community, particularly people with larger followings, have faced abuse in their DM request inbox from people they don’t follow.” Therefore, a new filter has been put in place to hide any message containing offensive words or phrases, even emojis that may be insensitive, so the user never has to see these messages. The app has a new privacy setting that will give users full control over what they can see. The new setting allows users to turn comment and DM requests on or off so you never come across anything offensive or unsettling. This is a big win for those who have felt unsafe while using the app.
No More Offensive Terms
A list of offensive terms that has been predefined will be filtered out when the new feature is on. There’s also an option to customize the setting. Everyone gets to decide for themselves which words are hurtful. The hateful messages will be moved into a separate folder that users can open if they so choose. If you open the folder, you have the option to uncover the message and report or delete it.
Instagram states, “this new feature is designed to help protect you from potentially offensive or abusive DM requests, while also respecting your privacy. All message filtering will take place on your own device, which means this feature won’t send any message content back to our servers. Using this feature doesn’t share the content of your DM requests with us unless you report them.” The app goes an extra step by preventing you from seeing messages with deliberately misspelled offensive words. Even if one of the words you choose not to see is misspelled either by accident or on purpose, you won’t be able to see it.
The Ability to Block New Accounts
Another new feature is the ability to preemptively block new accounts someone may make to try and harass you. Thus, making it extremely difficult for someone you’ve already blocked to contact you again through another account. This is big news. Many social media users with large followings experience their fair share of hate speech from a variety of accounts. Instagram makes it easy to keep your privacy protected while protecting yourself from people who are trying to harass you.
Instagram is continuing to work on its policies to prevent online abuse. These steps go a long way in keeping people safe. According to a study discussed in The Atlantic, 59 percent of teens have been bullied online. More than 1 in 5 teens have been bullied on Instagram specifically. These new policies will allow users to gain control over hateful speech they may be exposed to while using the app.