Instagram introduces new anti-bullying features

Instagram is rolling out new features to help combat cyberbullying, as the social-media company and its parent, Facebook Inc., work to quell criticism related to harassment on their platforms.

One of the tools relies on artificial intelligence to determine whether language in a post could be deemed offensive and prompts the poster to reconsider. The feature has been rolled out over the last few days and the company found that some people changed comments in early tests, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said in a blog post Monday.

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

Instagram is also testing an antibullying feature called Restrict, which allows users to limit their interactions with those who target them. When a user restricts someone, for example, that poster can see only their comments on the user’s post, according to the company. The user can choose to approve the comments on the post and make them visible to other users. The feature also doesn’t provide read receipts on direct messages.

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The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017.

The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Thomas White)

Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s former chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal in September 2018 that he became concerned with bullying when he was thinking of having children of his own.

Social-media platforms—like Facebook and Twitter Inc. —as well as video-sharing services—like YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google—have been under increasing pressure to monitor users’ behavior on fronts ranging from cyberbullying to purveying false information.

Facebook adopted a suite of antibullying features on its platform in October, allowing users to delete and hide comments on posts en masse. Facebook also allows users to anonymously report bullying or harassment that will then be reviewed by the company’s community operations team.

“It’s our responsibility to create a safe environment on Instagram,” Mr. Mosseri said. “This has been an important priority for us for some time, and we are continuing to invest in better understanding and tackling this problem.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, said at the company’s annual meeting in May that more than 2.1 billion people use one of its services—Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger—daily. Last year, Instagram reported having one billion monthly active users.

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