For 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.
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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