Instagram Offers More Tools To Fight Cyberbullies

For the third time this year, Instagram is offering new tools to users that both allow users more ways to manage their accounts if they’re being cyberbullied, and promote more positive interaction on the app.

Instagram logoWe have to give Instagram credit here; users have been asking for changes and more protection – users from high profile celebrities to random users who are being targeted by trolls and cyberbullies. Further, users typically don’t know how they want to be protected or what will work, so Instagram continues to iterate what they offer.

Today’s changes:

Comment Control – Users can now go to the advanced settings tab in the app and turn off others’ ability to comment on posts. Comments are where most of the rudeness and cyberbullying occur.

Like Comments – Before today, users could tap the heart button for posts, but not for comments. Now, if you see a comment that makes you smile, you can share the love.

Unfollow Users From Private Accounts – If your account is private (most teen accounts are – way to go kids!), and you’ve accepted a follow request, until now the only way to unfollow that account was to block them, in which case that user is notified. Now you can unfollow the user, which removes them from your feed without notifying them.

Below is some smart commentary from Bloomberg on the changes.

Nice job Instagram. Your move, Twitter.

 

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Instagram Resources for Bullying and Self-Injury Victims

Instagram logoInstagram is a community of sorts, so it makes sense that you would be able to report people in the community who are harming you, or who appear to be at risk of harming themselves.

We’ll be the first to admit that Instagram has done a good job creating such resources for users, and they are getting better. This week they announced that they are extending their helpline resources to a number of additional countries in Asia including Japan, Korea and Singapore.

The way the self-harm resources work is that an algorithm is running in the background that attempts to identify and reach out to users who appear to be at risk, and then offer to connect that user to a third party organization that can offer support.

ig-cutting-1

Let’s take a look at an example. This morning, we opened the search window and typed “cutting”, a hashtag frequently (too frequently) used by people who are engaged in self-harm. Workout fanatics also use that hashtag, which is probably why Instagram hasn’t killed it off entirely. When we proceeded to the search results, the message at right is displayed. If you click “Get Support” you are prompted with the options of messaging a friend, contacting a helpline or clicking thorough to a list of tips and support resources.

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If we instead opt to see the search results, we might be unlucky enough to see the image at right. This user claims to be in recovery, but does not appear to be doing very well. If you are so inclined, you can report that user to Instagram and hope that they’ll facilitate some sort of help.

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To that end, if you want to report anybody else’s account to Instagram, either because the account or a post is in any way inappropriate (self-harm, illegal activity, pornography…) or because you are being cyberbullied, click the three dots (…) at top right and the menu at right appears. The top two choices on the following screen allow you to report a user who appears to be a risk of self-injury, or to report an incident or harassment or bullying.

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Finally, there is help for users who are the victim of abusive comments posted under their posts. You can report those as well, but it’s a little trickier. If you see an abusive comment, tap the comment bubble below the pic and swipe left on the offending comment. You can then delete the comment (a great option) or tap the “!” (pictured at right) and report the comment.

Note: In our experience Instagram is not all that responsive to user inquiries so we aren’t sure how well these options work. In their defense, we have not heard reports of users complaining to Instagram about abuse and not getting resolution, as is often the case with Twitter.

 

 

 

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Teens Haven’t Abandoned Facebook

Facebook logoFacebook is dead to us.”

Why teens are leaving Facebook: It’s “meaningless”.”

3 reasons young people think Facebook is lame.”

U.S. teens are deserting Facebook faster than ever.”

There have been no shortage of headlines and thought pieces over the last four years about Facebook being on death’s door with teens, and as the logic goes, on its way to obsolescence. Teen preference is viewed as an early indicator of what will be mainstream consumer behavior down the road, so if teens aren’t using Facebook now, surely they won’t be using it as adults.

In a piece that we wrote yesterday citing teen research by brokerage firm Piper Jaffray, we noted that teens do indeed prefer both Instagram and Snapchat to Facebook. That is true for the moment, and maybe will be true in the future, but there is data in the survey that paints an anything but grim picture for the future of Facebook.

The survey polled 10,000 teens – a very big sample – and the full survey results broke out responses by age. Percentage of teens who use Facebook:

  • 14-year olds – 34%
  • 15-year olds – 43%
  • 16-year olds – 54%
  • 17-year olds – 62%
  • 18-year olds – 62%

That trend is pretty clear: Older teens are more likely to use Facebook than younger teens. It probably wasn’t always true. Before Snapchat and Instagram existed, of course Facebook was probably number one with 14-year olds. It was the only show in town.

Today, Snapchat and Instagram are cooler, but older teens are indeed adopting Facebook. We touched on why that might be true back in April 2015. Here’s what we currently see happening that is driving later teen Facebook adoption, but adoption nonetheless:

“Sign in using Facebook” – this is the go to onboarding method for many apps, internet sites and messaging forums, many of which make logging in with Facebook the easiest or only login method. 54% of social sign ins are made using a Facebook account.

Dating – Facebook remains the easiest way to check out that cute girl you saw at a school dance or football game. If you like what you see online, or confirm that she doesn’t appear to have a boyfriend, sending a friend request is much less anxiety producing than asking them out on a date.

Facebook Messenger – Especially early on in a friendship, it is easier to add someone on Facebook then hit them up via Messenger than to ask for their phone number. Messenger is the preferred massaging app for lots of people.

Family – If a mom asks a teen, “Did you see the pictures of cousin Heather’s new baby?” she is probably referring to pictures posted on Facebook.

In early 2015, a Pew Research survey found that 71% of teens use Facebook. According to the data in the Piper Jaffray study, that number is now down to 52% 18 months later. That’s a big decline, but higher numbers for older teens indicate to us that Facebook, while slightly less dominant due to the number of cool alternatives, isn’t going away any time soon.

From Venture Capitalist Josh Elman:

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-9-45-27-am

Even if Facebook isn’t as cool as it was, it’s becoming something of a utility.

 

 

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Ranking Teen Social Media Preference

Brokerage firm Piper Jaffray does a semiannual survey of teen preferences – from shopping to TV watching. We’ve written about it before, and the section on social media usage is always something that we focus on. As a reminder, here are the rankings of the surveyed teens’ “most important” social network from 12 months ago.

Piper teen survey social media

As you can see, Instagram was the clear #1 last year, Twitter preference was moving down, Facebook was stable in the teens and Snapchat was beginning to make inroads.

Fast-forwarding twelve months, the new results are in. This time around the survey polled 10,000 teens about a number of topics, and when it comes to social media the momentum of Snapchat is undeniable. Below is the percentage of teens’ who ranked each network their top social site or app for fall 2016:

snapchat-logo

  • Snapchat – 35%
  • Instagram – 24%
  • Twitter – 13%
  • Facebook – 13%
  • Pinterest – 1%
  • Google+ – 1%

The survey also asked the teens which network they use at least once a month.

  • Snapchat – 80%
  • Instagram – 79%
  • Twitter – 56%
  • Facebook – 52%
  • Pinterest – 25%
  • Google+ – 22%

It’s pretty clear that Snapchat and Instagram are dominating teen time and attention right now. Pictures and video are hot, both in the context of messaging and making permanent posts.

There are more interesting tidbits in the survey. When asked where/how teens consume video/TV, a big time evolution is happening. This shift may be clear to you if you’ve got a teen living in your house. As of this survey, YouTube passed conventional TV for the first time in terms of preferred viewing medium, and Netflix continues to be the leader.

  • Netflix – 37%
  • YouTube – 26%
  • Cable TV – 25%
  • Hulu – 3%
  • Other streaming – 6%

In terms of mobile devices, iPhone continues to dominate and looks to get stronger. 74% of the teens surveyed own an iPhone, up from 69% in April of this year, and 79% said that their next phone will probably be an iPhone. We’re not sure whether the bulk of the responses came in before or after high end Samsung phones started catching fire, but we suspect that it was before.

When it comes to teen social media preference, a couple of things are clear:

  • Pictures and video are where it’s at currently
  • Permanent vs. ephemeral is an important distinction and perhaps more important than public vs. private

With Instagram for example, your account can be public or private, but even if it is private it is public to your friends who can all see it – and make no mistake, what your friends think of your pictures is very important. Instagram is the home for your permanent images, and you may also use it for messaging. If you don’t want that image living on into next week or next year, you’ll probably use Snapchat.

 

 

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Instagram’s New “Save Draft” Function Will Be a Hit With Teens

We wrote earlier this year about an Instagram phenomenon that we think is very interesting. The post, titled “What’s up with teens and semi-private Instagram accounts?”, laid out what we see as the typical way that teens (especially teen girls) manage and curate their Instagram presence.

For reference, here is a screen grab of the images we posted with that article:

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-7-55-38-am

Notice anything similar about those 3 accounts? Again, from that post in February:

  • The accounts are all set to private
  • The accounts all follow a large number of accounts
  • The accounts all have a large number of followers
  • The accounts have posted precious few photos to their network

Bullet four is about to go to a whole new level. This week, Instagram introduced a “save draft” function.

From what we’ve seen, heard and read in research, until now the 20 or so photos that teen girls keep in their Instagram feed are there based on a number of factors including how many likes to posts gets in the few minutes immediately after being posted. Another obvious factor determining the whether the picture stays or goes is how good/pretty/amazing it is in the opinion of the poster.

With drafts, we expect to see (not “see” per se, but you get it) girls agonizing over the right filter/caption/effect and whether the photo is worthy of a shot at permanence before ultimately posting the pic, or discarding it before it ever gets posted.

That’s not good or bad, it’s just the way it is. Lots of frivolous photos get posted to Snapchat, then disappear (kind of, maybe). Other photos may get posted to the teen’s other Instagram account. A lot of teens treat their Instagram feed more like a museum that a social network. It looks like that will continue.

 

 

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Instagram Introduces Filters To Clean Up Your Stream

ig-logoFor any social network that allows comments and replies to posts, which is most of them, the comments section can be a real mess. Everything from profanity and crude humor to outright cyberbullying and hate speech can be the result of an innocent post, and Instagram is no exception. Starting this week, they are doing something about it.

Yesterday Instagram announced that it is rolling out new tools to help users filter what kinds of comments they see, in the hope that the user experience for the average, non-hater user will be improved. These settings have been available to high profile accounts since the summer.

In the words of Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom:

“To empower each individual, we need to promote a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment. It’s not only my personal wish to do this, I believe it’s also our responsibility as a company. So, today, we’re taking the next step to ensure Instagram remains a positive place to express yourself.”

To achieve this, Instagram is introducing a new set of filters that will allow users to control what they see in their comments, or more specifically to control which types of public comments can never be directed at them by other users.

ig-filters

In an example that we see too often, a young user will post a selfie and in the worst-case scenario, will receive replies like, “You’re ugly and you should kill yourself.”

One option for users is to have Instagram block all comments containing words and phrases that are often reported as inappropriate. We assume that the word ugly, as well as other terms used in personal attacks, would be on this list. An additional option for users is to filter out a custom list of keywords that the user supplies.

The new filters are available as soon as today (they are for me) by visiting the Settings -> Comments on your mobile device or your computer. FYI, if you’re going to build a large keyword list, it is probably easier to do it on a computer.

We think this is a very positive step.

 

 

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Will Internet Age Verification Work?

Interesting news out of the U.K. this week – it looks like they have figured out a way to verify the age of internet users, in cases where age verification is a benefit to the system.

This is an area of great concern for us, principally because there are rules regarding the minimum age for social media platforms, and yet the network operators are unable or unwilling to enforce those rules.

Let’s use Instagram as an example, which not surprisingly has a lot of underage users. The stated age limit is 13, but you have to go out of your way to find where that age limit is written. When signing up for an account, you do need to provide a phone number or email address, but at no point are you asked your age, or that you are at least 13 years old. Any kid with a phone can sign up regardless of age.

Gov.UK VerifyThe current plan is to use the age check system on UK Government websites, but in the future it will be extended to commercial services. For example, a proposed law will require adult content providers (in the UK) to certify that users are 18 in order to access that content in the future.

According to GOV.UK Verify, your age and identity can be verified in about 10 minutes the first time you use it, and it takes seconds to do it for any sites you visit afterwards.

Can such technology be extended to social media sites? For sure it can, and we hope it will be. Almost every teen has a smartphone, and some parents desperately want to control which apps they’re using and what content they are accessing without taking the phone away completely or implementing parental controls.

At present, the age limits for social media are no match for enterprising teens and tweens who want to get around the rules. This is exactly the type of problem that can be solved by technology. Let’s make it happen.

 

 

If you want to make sure your teen is not at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

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NJ Schools in Turmoil Over Racially Tinged Social Media Posts

Maplewood NJ
Three separate incidents in which students in a North Jersey district posted racially insensitive material to Instagram have school officials and parents in an uproar. Oddly, there is less information at this time about what the views of students are. There’s also no word on what the possible punishment will be, but you can bet there will be some.

In the incident drawing the most fire, two students reportedly were trying some new facial cream that made their skin look darker. Pictures were posted to Instagram, and other students assumed that the girls were doing a blackface parody. The girls claim they were just goofing around with makeup, and didn’t even know the negative stigma around blackface.

According to Superintendent John Ramos:

“We are using our code of conduct and restorative practices strategies, as well as engaging community resources, to help students recognize and address the effect that their behavior has had on our school community. … Our job as educators is to respond to students’ bad choices with appropriate consequences and guidance, and to work to resolve what happened in such a way that our community remains whole.”

The district is scrambling to make parents feel better about the situation. We don’t usually recommend looking at the comments section of online news but this article at NJ.com covering the uproar shows how divided people are.

A video from CBS News interviews a parent of one of the girls. The video embed isn’t working but you can watch it here.

As you can see, the mother is quite distraught, and is looking to protect her daughter from the backlash, claiming that she meant to do no harm.

Unfortunately, this is a very difficult genie to put back in the bottle. The message is pretty clear, though. If you are going to post anything online that might offend someone, don’t. It is impossible to know how others will react.

 

 

 

If you want to make sure your teen is not at risk, we can help. The ThirdParent initial audit is now FREE (previously a $49 value). Ongoing monitoring is $15 per month and you can cancel at any time. Click here to sign up today!

 

 

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Snapchat and Instagram Dominate Social User Growth

The Harvard University Institute of Politics released a study recently titled Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service. The study polled 2,011 18 – 29 year olds in the fourth quarter of last year asking questions about a number of topics. The one that caught out eye was the section on social media use.

Not surprisingly, Facebook is the most used social media platform, being used by 81% of respondents, a 1% increase over the past two years.

The fastest growing social media platforms were Snapchat, which grew 8% over the past two years, and Instagram, which grew by 7%.

Harvard social media

Despite their rapid growth Instagram and Snapchat are nowhere near Facebook level of ubiquity. Instagram is used by only 46% of respondents, and Snapchat by only 36%.

Will either ever get to 80%+ penetration? It is possible, despite the fact that there are many options out there. Taking Stock with Teens, a survey by Piper Jaffray released this month polled over 6,500 teens about their social media use. The Piper survey found that 75% of U.S. teens use Snapchat and 74% use Instagram, while only 59% use Facebook. Snapchat and Instagram, in that order, were most highly ranked when asked what is your “most important social network?”

Piper social media survey
The times are changing.

 

 

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Piper social media survey

Instagram Now Supports “Finsta” Accounts

Here comes an unintended consequence, or maybe it isn’t unintended. Starting this week, you can now switch between multiple accounts on Instagram, on one device.

insta-logo-transparentIf you work in marketing, this is a very good thing. You can use your personal account on your phone, as well as the accounts of the brands you represent, without having to constantly log out then log back in again with a different account.

For parents of teen Instagram users, this change isn’t so positive. Let us explain.

The rise of #finsta

We wrote last week about how a lot of teen, especially early teen, Instagram users have a very carefully curated feed – hundreds of followers and only a couple dozen posts is not atypical. From an excellent post by a 17-year old at Medium titled “Finstagram: The Instagram Revolution”:

“When I post a photo on Instagram I know that just about every person I am connected to in the real life will see my photo, decide whether or not to like it, and then judge me subconsciously. Because of this, Instagram is seen as a huge stressor for many teenagers.”

Social media-induced stress is not a good thing for teens, yet Instagram is the most important social network for many. Hence the rise of Finsta accounts (a contraction of “fake” and “Instagram”). When you want to let your hair down – perhaps the photo isn’t your cutest self, maybe the photo depicts you doing something that you don’t want family seeing or maybe your caption includes a crude joke – you can post those photos and videos to your Finsta account.

 

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The problem has been the friction of doing so. Logging out of one Instagram account and logging into another is often not worth the effort to post a frivolous pic, or so we’ve heard.

what-is-finsta It makes sense that Instagram doesn’t have a problem with Finsta accounts. More users is a good thing. More time spent on the app is a good thing. And Instagram isn’t all too concerned about parents, after all.

Finsta accounts aren’t a new problem, but making them easier to use may magnify the problem. We already argue that teens are shielding some of their online activity from their parents. Having an Instagram account (that your parents might follow) with precious few photos is one way of painting a rosy picture of your online activity. If Instagram supporting multiple accounts mean that more teens will have a Finsta account, or those that already do will use it more, it ups the ante for parents who want to stay on top of things.

 

 

 

 

 

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