Instagram Rolls Out New Features to Help Stop Cyberbullying
Instagram has had a long-standing cyberbullying problem, but the social media giant is finally taking serious steps to help address it. Yesterday on her Instagram account, Sheryl Sandberg (COO of parent company Facebook) announced the unveiling of two new features that aim to combat cyberbullying.
This is an important move for the company, as Instagram is the most popular platform for Generation Z — 85% of kids use the photo-sharing app. In late 2018, it surpassed Snapchat as the most-used social media platform among teens, and because of its popularity, cyberbullying has grown along with it. More than half of users have reported being cyberbullied on Instagram. In this post, we’ll explain Instagram’s two new features and how they’re going to (hopefully) help curb cyberbullying on the app.
The Restrict Feature — A New Way to Deal With Bullies
Instagram has acknowledged that many users are hesitant to block, unfollow, or report bullies because it could make their situation worse. With the new “Restrict” feature, you can protect your account from bullying without notifying the person targeting you.
When you restrict someone, only you and they can see their comments on your posts — unless you approve their comments. Bullies will be content that they’re sending their toxic messaging to you, unaware that no one else will be able to see it but you. This way, other people won’t be tempted to jump in and add even more hurtful comments.
Unfortunately, the bully’s comments will still be visible to the user (in this case, imagine a 12-year-old girl fielding unkind comments on Instagram), even if it’s not visible to anyone else. Although she has restricted the bully, she still has to deal with seeing the hurtful messages, and this can be devastating. Also, the bully’s friends may inform them that their messages and comments are not showing up on her posts, alerting them to the fact they’re being restricted.
The Comment Warning Feature — Calling Bullies Out Before They Post
Hurtful comments are rampant on Instagram, and they’re easy to fire off without thinking. The “Comment Warning” feature lets people know when their comment might be considered offensive before they post it. In their announcement, Instagram stated, “Tests show that this encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful instead.”
For this new feature to work, users have to update their app. When someone composes a hurtful message and tries to post it, a notice appears that gives them the option to “Undo” their comment. If they tap “Learn more,” a message pops up asking them to help keep Instagram a supportive place.
At the Bark offices, we tested this new feature ourselves. And sure enough, when we attempted to post something hurtful, Instagram caught it and asked us if we were sure we wanted to post the comment.
Kids spend more time on Instagram than any other social media platform, and even with these new features, cyberbullying can still occur. Bark monitors for signs of cyberbullying on Instagram — as well as other potentially dangerous issues like sexual predators, depression, self-harm, and more. Our award-winning service also monitors text messages, chat, email, and 24+ other social media platforms. Sign up today for a free, one-week trial.