Instagram is rolling out two new features that are intended to protect teens from online bullying.
Both features were created after careful and thorough research—so that they might really help people that are being harassed and targeted on Instagram protect themselves.
While teens aren’t the only age group that experience bullying and harassment on Instagram, they are often the most at risk because they are reluctant to use any of the current tools available to them. Tools such as blocking the user, unfollowing the user, or reporting the user because they worry that it may cause the situation or bullying to escalate, especially if they have to interact with this person in real life.
Please talk to your kids about these new features so they understand how they can use them. And it’s a great time to revisit and familiarize yourself with the additional Instagram privacy and user features that may help everyone in your family have a more positive experience on Instagram.
New Instagram Anti Bullying Feature: Comment Warning
Instagram is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to flag comments that are hurtful or offensive and ask if they really want to post that.
“In the last few days, we started rolling out a new feature powered by AI that notifies people when their comment may be considered offensive before it’s posted. This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification. 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.”
Think of it like when restaurants starting posting the calorie count on their menus. That additional bit of information causes your brain to pause…and hopefully this new feature will help the average user pause long enough to realize they should not post that comment.
Any steps that help provide users with more tools to discourage bullying are a great thing, but as parents, we need to take all of this with a grain of salt and know that Instagram tools aren’t a replacement for talking to our kids and guiding them. While some people might find a message that asks “Are you sure you want to post this message” to be enough of a deterrent, it won’t solve all of our bullying problems. We still have to arm our kids with the ability to talk to a trusted adult if they are feeling threatened or harassed or if they are having a lousy experience on social media.
New Instagram Anti Bullying Feature: Restrict
Instagram is allowing you to put a user in a restricted category—without them knowing. You can prevent anyone else from seeing their comments, and prevent them from seeing when you’re active on the app.
“We wanted to create a feature that allows people to control their Instagram experience, without notifying someone who may be targeting them. Soon, we will begin testing a new way to protect your account from unwanted interactions called Restrict. Once you Restrict someone, comments on your posts from that person will only be visible to that person. You can choose to make a restricted person’s comments visible to others by approving their comments. Restricted people won’t be able to see when you’re active on Instagram or when you’ve read their direct messages.”
This is a step in the right direction. But keep in mind, bullying can often happen in packs. It won’t be too hard for Bully A to ask Bully B if they can see their comment on Target C’s post. And the target of the harassment can still see the comments, which could create a more aggressive private attack.
Privacy and anti-bullying tools are great. But it’s important to know that no setting is going to protect a child 100%. We have to keep talking to our kids about the purpose of these devices and apps and what role they are playing in our lives.
Instagram’s goal is to keep users on the app so they can make money by selling ads.
It’s critical that we keep that in mind as we help our children navigate their digital lives.
Social networks want to protect their bottom line. Parents want to protect the physical and mental health of their children. Those two objectives will often clash, but the more we inform ourselves about the landscape of our kid’s digital lives, the better we can help guide them.
You can read the full post from Instagram here.