Instagram has introduced new features called Limits and Hidden Words that are intended to reduce hate and abuse on trending posts.
The update is intended to keep harassing, racist, homophobic, and sexist content out of comments and DM requests for its users, particularly creators and public features.
Beginning today, all users will be able to hide comments and DM requests from users who do not follow them or have only recently started following them using the new Limits feature.
If someone tries to publish offensive content, the app will issue “an even stronger warning” and stop posting immediately, rather than waiting for a repeat offence as it did previously.
“Creators also tell us they don’t want to switch off comments and messages completely; they still want to hear from their community and build those relationships.
Limits allow you to hear from your long-standing followers while limiting contact from people who might only be coming to your account to target you,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri said in a blog post.
According to Instagram, the features were developed following racist abuse directed at UK footballers in their direct messages.
“Our research shows that a lot of negativity towards public figures comes from people who don’t actually follow them, or who have only recently followed them, and who simply pile on in the moment,” said Mosseri.
“We saw this after the recent Euro 2020 final, which resulted in a significant — and unacceptable — spike in racist abuse towards players.”
The other new feature, Hidden Words, allows users to filter abusive messages in DM requests. If a request contains any of the filter words you’ve specified, it’s automatically saved in a hidden folder that you can choose not to open — though it’s not completely erased.
The update, which is now available, comes after Facebook announced that it would make Instagram safer and more private for teens.
Changes made last month include automatically making accounts private for teens under the age of 16, limiting advertisers’ ability to target personal information such as “interests,” and using AI to detect a user’s age.
The changes also coincide with Facebook’s investigation into developing a version of Instagram for children under the age of 13.
While the idea is still in its early stages, Democratic lawmakers have asked the company to detail exactly how it would work “given Facebook’s past failures to protect children,” they wrote.
44 state attorneys general oppose it, writing that “this is a dangerous idea that jeopardizes the safety of our children and puts them directly in harm’s way.”