In response to the public’s growing concern over cyber bullying and hate speech, social media giant Instagram has finally announced plans for more stringent protections of its users.
On Monday, the photo sharing platform, which allows users to freely comment on public profiles, said they’ll be employing more advanced artificial intelligence to track harassment on its network — even before the tormentor clicks “send.”
While the company already uses AI to track and remove harmful content, a new feature will force users to pause before posting a potentially offensive comment.
“This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment,” says Instagram head Adam Mosseri. While it may seem naive to think a bona fide bully will be swayed by a moment of reflection, the company says testing has been hopeful.
“From early tests of the feature, we have found that it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect,” he says.
Another new aspect, dubbed “Restrict,” will make it harder for bullies to get recognition from their targets.
“We’ve heard from young people in our community that they’re reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they interact with their bully in real life,” Mosseri says.
This measure will make it so abusive comments from flagged users are invisible to you, and make your current status unknown to your offender.
Adds Mosseri, “Restricted people won’t be able to see when you’re active on Instagram or when you’ve read their direct messages.”
A 2018 Pew Research study estimates that 72 percent of American teenagers are on Instagram. A study later that year also found that some 59 percent of US teens have suffered online bullying and harassment. The same study also notes that well over half of their respondents say that police, politicians, teachers and social media sites themselves aren’t doing enough to address the issue. The lack of oversight has led some distraught parents to go to extremes to protect their children.
Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, also recently pledged to quash online bullying by giving users more control over their feed and comments. As their global head of safety Antigone Davis wrote in a 2018 blog post, “Everyone deserves to feel safe on Facebook.”