Instagram’s plan to make you a nicer person online

There’s something about a screen that can turn normal polite people into obnoxious monsters.

Trolling is as much a part of internet life as social media but that doesn’t mean something shouldn’t be done about it.

Now, Instagram is rolling out new anti-bullying software in a bid to reduce harmful comments on its platform.

  • How will the new feature work?

The new features will notify people before they post a comment which may be considered offensive.

As the person goes to upload the post, they will be asked if they are sure they want to continue uploading their comment.

  • What does Instagram say?

The company’s chief executive Adam Mosseri said: ‘We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves.”

‘This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification.”

He added that early tests suggested the new failsafe encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less harmful.

An example of how the feature works would be where a person types ‘you are so ugly and stupid’, and is then interrupted with a notice saying: ‘Are you sure you want to post this? Learn more’.

If the user clicks ‘learn more’, a notice tells them: ‘We are asking people to rethink comments that seem similar to others that have been reported.’

  • Why is Instagram introducing the new feature?

Online bullying is a ‘complex issue’, Mr Mosseri said.

‘This is especially crucial for teens since they are less likely to report online bullying even when they are the ones who experience it the most.’

The move by Instagram comes following the death of schoolgirl Molly Russell, 14, who took her own life in November 2017.

Her father Ian said he believed Instagram was partly responsible for her death.

Speaking at a conference in June, Mr Russell said: ‘It is important to acknowledge that tech firms do a lot of good, but sadly their platforms are being used by people to do harm and they have not done enough to prevent that.

‘Unless change happens, their platforms will become toxic.’

  • What else is Instagram unveiling?

Instagram is also due to launch another tool, called Restrict, designed to help users filter abusive comments without needing to block others.

Mr Mosseri said: ‘We’ve heard from young people in our community that they’re reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation.

‘Some of these actions also make it difficult for a target to keep track of their bully’s behaviour.’

Mr Mosseri said restricted people will not be able to see when a user is active on Instagram or when direct messages have been read.

He added: ‘It is our responsibility to create a safe environment on Instagram.’

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