Instagram is making a real effort to battle bullying on its platform.
At the Facebook F8 conference this week, I watched Instagram head Adam Mosseri announce smart new functions designed to minimise negative comments.
Among the tested functions is an ‘away mode’ that will give users a break when they need it – and an option to block specific users from commenting on posts, that still allows them to view the post. Effectively muting them.
What I found most interesting though, was a ‘nudge’ feature aimed to nip negativity in the bud, before it’s even posted. If the comments on a post have been predominantly positive, but you want to leave an insult, Instagram will stop and ask you if you really want to make that comment. Of course, you can go ahead, but Instagram will then begin tracking your activity to ensure you aren’t using the platform to harass people.
It encouraging to see Instagram prioritising the welfare of their users. Particularly the millions of young people who use the app daily. According to a 2018 report, 59 percent of teens have been bullied online. Another found that 45% of US teens feel overwhelmed by the drama on social media.
It’s the perfect storm. As users feel compelled to share the best bits of their lives in the most polished way, envy can spread with toxic results.
While cyber bulling is largely considered a criminal offence, finding perpetrators hiding behind numerous fake profiles can be difficult. Now tech companies are starting to step in to tackle the problem at its source, with the power to deactivate accounts and render bullies voiceless.
Instagram has grown into a platform used by a billion users because it’s an outlet for expression and sharing that makes you feel good. Protecting this makes sense for the preservation of the platform – and its users.