A game-changing move that could set the tone for how Instagram is used in the coming years was made today. Instagram has rolled out a new tool that can automatically filter abusive DMs. The new tool, according to the Facebook-owned app, will filter out abusive content sent as DM to users.
While there is no single tool that could completely eliminate abusive comments online, Instagram’s new tool could go a long way to help reduce the harm it causes. Celebrities and popular soccer stars have been at the receiving end of abusive remarks on their various social media pages lately, but things may well start changing going forward.
“Because DMs are private conversations, we don’t proactively look for hate speech or bullying the same way we do elsewhere on Instagram. That’s why 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,” Instagram announced in a blog post on Wednesday.
So, why the focus on DM requests? According to Instagram, DMs are usually where people receive the most abusive messages. This is very unlike the regular DM inbox where you receive messages from friends. The company said the tool will work in similar way to the comment filters that is already in use, which allows you to hide offensive comments and choose what terms you do not want people to use in comments under your posts. There is now a new dedicated section of your Privacy Settings called “Hidden Words,” which allows you to turn both comment and DM requests on or off.
“All DM requests that contain these offensive words, phrases, or emojis – whether from your custom list or the predefined list – will be automatically filtered into a separate hidden requests folder. If you choose to open the folder, the message text will be covered so you’re not confronted with offensive language, unless you tap to uncover it. You then have the option to accept the message request, delete it, or report it.”
Instagram said it collaborated with leading anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organizations to develop a predefined list of offensive terms that will be filtered from DM requests when the feature is turned on.
A few days ago, Instagram placed a restriction on a user account for sending racist abuse to an EPL player Tyrone Mings. Mings, an Aston Villa player, was sent an abusive message by the user last Friday. Instagram has now restricted the account of the user “for a set period of time.” The abuser, according to a Facebook spokesperson could get his account disabled if he continues to violate the rules of the platform.