Instagram is trying to stop bullying and trolling on its platform by warning people before they post offensive comments.
The new A.I.-powered feature will detect potentially nasty content and ask the offending user if they still want to post it.
In a Monday blog post, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri wrote that the new feature is aimed at deterring bullying, especially among teens. The social network has already used artificial intelligence to detect all kinds of harmful content in comments, photos, and videos, but the new warning aims to stop negativity before it gets posted.
“This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification,” Mosseri wrote. “From early tests of this 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.”
Instagram also introduced what’s essentially a shadowban feature in the hopes of helping people who are being bullied. Users can now “Restrict” others, which means that person can still comment on your posts, but the comments will only be visible to them. Restricted users won’t be able to see if you’ve read their messages or see when you’re active on Instagram.
“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 wrote. “Some of these actions also make it difficult for a target to keep track of their bully’s behavior.”
Bullying is a particular problem among younger people on Instagram. A 2017 study found that 17% of teens are bullied online, and the majority of that cyberbullying happens over Instagram. Mosseri himself acknowledged that it’s an ongoing problem, and that Instagram plans to take additional steps to crack down on bullying on its platform.
“We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves. Today we’re announcing one new feature in both areas,” Mosseri wrote. “These tools are grounded in a deep understanding of how people bully each other and how they respond to bullying on Instagram, but they’re only two steps on a longer path.”
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