Instagram is introducing two new tools to combat hate abuse and harassment

  • Instagram introduces two new tools to combat abuse, hate speech and harassment.
  • One of the tools will allow you to block DM applications with the words you consider offensive.
  • The new features will be introduced in the coming weeks.

Instagram shared an update on its work toward combating abuse, hate speech and bullying on its platform in February. Along the same lines, today’s social media platform announced two new features to protect its users from seeing aggressive direct messages (DMs) and permanently block users from reaching you using fresh accounts.

A much-needed tool for fighting abusive messages is here

Instagram, or any other social media platform for that matter, is not safe from abuse and hate. Abusive content flowing around in plain view is no secret on social media. Instagram believes “no one should have to prove it” on its platform. But the issue is not as easy to fight as there are many challenges. For example, comments that are visible to the public can be tracked, but Instagram cannot track DM content, which is the most common medium of speech abuse and hate.

Instagram's new tool will allow you to select the words and phrases you want to restrict in your DM applications
How to enable the new feature in settings.Instagram

To combat this, the Facebook-owned media sharing platform has introduced a new tool that will automatically filter DM applications containing offensive words, phrases and emojis. The tool needs to be settings-enabled and focuses on DM requests, sent by users you don’t follow, unlike the regular DM inbox where you receive messages from your friends.

The tool will work exactly how the comment filter works – which lets you hide offensive comments and prevent unwanted words you don’t want people to use. The feature can be turned on in the ‘Hidden Words’ setting under the ‘Privacy Settings’ option. As well as letting users add customized words / phrases / emojis, Instagram says it has worked with some anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organizations to set a pre-defined list of offensive terms to filter out when the feature is turned on. All filtered messages based on the custom list and pre-defined list will be moved to a separate folder called ‘hidden applications.’ If for some reason you choose to go to the folder, the contents of the messages will become unclear unless you tap to uncover it at will.

This feature will be rolled out in the coming weeks, but only in selected regions for the time being. Other regions will get this feature in the coming months.


Will Instagram require access to your messages to make this feature work?

The abuse detection feature is a solid idea to fight abuse, but how is Instagram going to find the words in my personal messages? Instagram promises that all message filtering will take place on your device, which means this feature will not send any message content to its servers. “Using this feature does not share the contents of your DM applications with us unless you report them,” Instagram notes in its blog post.

A smarter way to block unwanted links is also making its way to Instagram

Instagram's new tool will allow you to select the words and phrases you want to restrict in your DM applications
New Instagram feature that automatically restricts already blocked new accounts.Instagram

For cases like when you block an account and the person makes a new account to your pest, Instagram has finally come up with a solution. With the new feature, if you block someone you will have the option to unambiguously block any other account made by that person. Although it is unclear how Instagram is going to find that out, it is likely to be done using the individual’s registration details such as the email address and phone number. This feature will be available worldwide in the coming weeks.

In addition to the existing abuse management tools on its platform, Instagram says it is working proactively toward hiding common spelling of offensive words from your manually filtered comment filter list. Which means that if someone writes a word that you don’t want to accidentally or intentionally spell incorrectly, it still won’t be visible.