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Instagram says its A.I. can track down bullying in photos

New head of Instagram Adam Mosseri has kicked off his tenure at the top of the company by doubling down on efforts to eradicate bullying on the site.

Instagram already has a number of systems in place that automatically spot hurtful behavior like nasty comments, and now it’s turning to artificial intelligence to help it deal with images and captions that are used to bully people on the site.

Should Instagram’s systems spot any suspect content, it will be automatically passed to its Community Operations team for a final decision on whether any action should be taken against a suspected perpetrator.

“This change will help us identify and remove significantly more bullying,” Mosseri wrote in a post on Tuesday, October 9, describing it as a “crucial next step since many people who experience or observe bullying don’t report it.”

He said the new system will help it protect Instagram’s youngest community members as it’s this age group that experiences the highest rates of bullying online.

The new technology has begun to roll out and will reach all ‘grammers in the coming weeks.

Mosseri said Instagram has also expanded its bullying comment filter from Feed, Explore, and Profile to comments on live videos to ensure the feature remains a “safe and fun place” to connect with friends and share interests.


Instagram is well aware that it’s escaped much of the negative publicity that’s hit its parent company, Facebook, in the past 18 months, and so, determined to maintain an upbeat vibe, it’s introducing a “kindness camera effect to spread positivity.” Launched with help from New York Times best-selling teen author, dancer, and actor Maddie Ziegler, who herself has experienced bullying online, the filter (above) adds a screenful of hearts to selfies, and overlays photos with “kind comments in many languages.”

If you follow Maddie, you’ll have access to the new camera effect automatically — simply swipe to open the camera, tap the face icon at the bottom, and select the new camera effect. If you don’t follow her but you see someone else with the effect, tap “try it” to add it to your camera.

The launch of the new features coincides with October’s National Bullying Prevention Month in the U.S., which aims to raise awareness of bullying prevention.

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