Online drama. It gets people riled up and a reason to shame, throw insults, and inflict self-righteous justice… at the comfort and safety behind a screen. At most times anonymously. Regardless of which platform - be it forums, social media, or even video streaming websites - there’s no escape from such toxic behaviour and harassment. Instagram is no exception to these forms of online bullying, and in an effort to counter this, the company has just recently announced two new tools that are implemented in their application.
The first being an artificial intelligence that will detect and flag offensive comments before they are posted. With this form of preemptive intervention, the commenter is first issued a warning and at the same time is given the chance to reflect and undo their actions regardless of their intentions. According to Instagram, early tests of this feature has encouraged some users to backtrack from committing such harmful actions. While the number may be small for now, it’s still a step forward in this matter.
The other update is Restrict, a feature that allows you to “soft ban” a person (in this case, a bully) and limit their comments to only yourself while removing its visibility from your visitors or followers. It gives users a chance to stand up for themselves where all interactions are between them and the offender. A person who has been restricted will not be notified when this action is implemented on them, nor will they be able to know when you’re active on Instagram or if you have read their direct messages.
We may not be seeing the end of online bullying anytime soon, but Instagram has been on the right track so far in attempt to keep toxic behaviour at bay. Technology may be advancing to give us the ability to filter or restrict bullying, but it's still important to realise what pushed us into making such features a necessity is our own behaviour. To quote Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “be excellent to each other and party on, dudes.”