Instagram has announced plans to combat bullying on the platform. The Facebook-owned service has devised a number of new methods to mitigate the issue, following a spate of bullying-related incidents centred around the platform.

The issue

Recently, Instagram has been under mounting pressure to resolve the increasingly widespread problem of bullying on its platform.

It was brought to a head with the case of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who took her own life following exposure to mentally harmful content regarding suicide and depression on Instagram.

Instagram’s chief executive, Adam Mosseri, claimed that the organisation could do more to mitigate the effects of online bullying.

Rethink

Among a number of other features to be rolled out as part of Instagram’s response, they have announced the introduction of a pop-up for comments.

This pop-up will be triggered by A.I., which will flag text as being similar to content which has already been reported as inappropriate.

Once triggered, the pop-up will then ask the user if they’re sure about what they’re about to post, the intention being to encourage users to rethink before posting something which could be harmful.

Instagram believes that this will, in the first instance, help reduce the incidences of bullying on the platform.

The rethink pop-up will be rolled out first to English-speaking users, with others to follow.

Restricted

In addition to this, Instagram has revealed the development of a feature called ‘Restrict’.

This new feature will allow victims of bullying on the platform to set the perpetrators’ accounts to ‘restricted’.

Once an account has been set as restricted, their comments will only be visible to themselves, unless approved by the user on whose content they have been posted.

Furthermore, restricted users will not be able to see when the victim is online or whether or not they have read their direct messages.

Restricted users will also not have any knowledge of their restricted status, combatting the potentially repercussive effects of acts such as blocking and reporting.

Instagram claims that they had received feedback from users indicating that they were afraid to make use of existing features such as blocking and reporting as they may lead to real-life escalations, especially in cases where perpetrator and victim interact regularly.

Real-world aid

Facebook has announced the allocation of funds for the Anti-Bullying at the Diana Award to conduct real-world educational programs in schools, in an attempt to do more to inform young users, who are the primary victims of Instagram bullying, of the potential risks.

The U.K. government has called on all social media platforms to do more to combat the concerningly widespread issue.

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