I’d like to think that social media has improved the way we live in a lot of ways. It helps us reconnect with long lost friends and relatives, share our lives with loved ones abroad, and meet new people that we would have otherwise never encountered… But… the world can be a very mean place too. Social media has also enabled people to bully others online with almost no repercussions. It’s easy to hide behind a screen while you’re firing off insults at total strangers. However, Instagram is introducing new features to their platform to attempt to minimize this type of bullying.
Instagram will let you know if you’re being mean when you are making a comment. How is this possible? It uses an AI that can detect if the comment is mean or offensive before you post it. They gave an example where someone wrote a comment saying, quote, “You are so ugly and stupid” and Instagram pops up with a comment asking, “Are you sure you want to post this?” See the example in the source. I really feel like no one just “accidentally” posts mean or hurtful things… they are usually intended to hurt someone. Though this may help the rare bully who decides to take the high road at the last second, by making them think about their words before they possibly inflame the recipient. Or, I like the way Instagram puts it… hoping that they will “share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect.”
You will be able to restrict users. Sure lots of platforms let you block, unfollow, or report, etc. – but some people are hesitant to block harassers… because they don’t want them to find out, and possibly further escalate the harassment. Instagram’s restrict feature will allow you to secretly mute the unwanted user, without them ever knowing they were muted. Comments on your posts from the restricted person will only be visible them, until you approve it. Users that you have restricted won’t be able to see when you’re active on Instagram, and can’t see when or if you’ve read their DMs.
Will any of this help? One of the reasons twitter has such a bad reputation is because of how toxic the community has become. Perhaps this is Instagram taking steps in the right direction to keep that from happening on their platform. It technically doesn’t “stop” bullying, but it does promote positive social interaction, and gives bullies a chance to use better judgement before the offensive comment is posted.