Here’s how Instagram plan to stop cyber bullying

In the spirit of Anti-Bullying Week 2019, we’re looking into the social media giant, Instagram and their plans to abolish cyber-bullying from their platform.

We know that mental health is extremely topical and has been on the daily agenda for months. Yet, what’s slightly worrying to all is the close correlation of poor mental health and heavy social media use.

The Link: Poor Mental Health & Social Media

There’s lots of stigma on channels like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, relating to body image, frequency of travel and abundance of materialistic items and how these things determine how successful you are within society. This ideology comes from the rapid growth of social media influencers. Their posts often showcase themselves to be living particularly extravagant lifestyles, full of riches.

As a result, it’s cultivated a culture of negativity. That’s whether that stems from jealousy, insecurity, feeling inadequate, discouragement, fear and anxiety, disappointment and frustration or other.

These negative feelings then turn into negative actions. Users begin to post offensive messages in the comments of other people’s photos, Instagram Stories and through direct messages.

Tip: If you are subjected to “hate” comments on social media, especially Instagram, you can use the following features to help remove a lot of this negativity from your social profile. However, don’t stop there. It’s extremely important you speak to someone about how it’s making you feel. Here’s some help from Anti-Bullying Alliance.

Sadly, it’s led to much upset for many users and in terrible, extreme cases, suicide showing just how important it is to stop cyber-bullying and give those users who have or are receiving it, support.

Thankfully, Instagram is helping to pave the way by improving their policies to stop users being subjected to such “hate” online. Let’s take a look at just how they’re doing so.

“Are you sure you want to post that?” Prompts

The first feature improvement we will look into is editing your Instagram comments. As a user, when you are posting a negative comment on someone’s photo, you will be asked: “Are you sure you want to post this?”.

By clicking “Learn More” you are shown a pop-up message that encourages the user to keep Instagram a supportive place. It states that it understands certain keywords within your message have been included in comments that have previously been reported.

Key terms including “ugly” and “stupid” are picked out as being offensive and hence, Instagram is trying to make you think twice before you publish something nasty and derogative to another user.

Comment Hiding

Although it’s not a new feature, if you’ve found negative comments posted on your content, you can easily remove or hide them from your followers.

Tip: Please note that reporting or removing comments needs to be done on a mobile device - the most popular way to use Instagram.

On mobile, when on your image, click on the “see more” option or “other comments”. You’ll then be taken to the post caption with all photo comments shown underneath. By swiping left on each comment, you’ll then be shown three icons:

  • A left-pointing arrow – this stands for “reply”
  • A speed bubble with an exclamation point – this stands for “report”
  • A bin on a red background – this stands for “delete”

If the comment is considered negative, we suggest that you report the comment for “abusive content”. That way, the keywords included in the comment are flagged to Instagram.

Instagram can then help to stop these types of comments being posted in the future and the “are you sure you want to post this?” prompts (discussed above), will work for these terms.

Then, delete the comment and restrict the user. Learn how to restrict the user, next…

“Restrict” Users Who Are Commenting Offensive Messages

If you find that the same user keeps posting negative comments or private messages to you, you can “restrict” them.

To do so, you can click on their comment and the “report” option. Then, you’ll see the option to “report the comment” or “restrict *@accountname*”. In the case below, the user’s name is “divdivk”, though this is just an example.

Once you’ve clicked “restrict divdivk” you’ll see a pop-up message stating “Are you having a problem with divdivk?”. Instagram then goes on to state what happens if you decide to go ahead and restrict their account:

  • You protect yourself from unwanted interactions from them, without them knowing. That way you won’t be subjected to their hurtful comments and they won’t know they’ve been blocked or similar. Sometimes, users might not want to block an account that’s being particularly negative to them because of future repercussions.
  • Only you and that user can see their new comments. So, if they decide to keep commenting negative messages, you’re followers won’t be aware of this and you can keep the matter private.
  • They won’t see when you’re online or when you’ve read their messages. If they’ve sent you abusive messages, they won’t know if you’ve seen them. Hence Instagram have found it makes the user less likely to continue with the stream of abuse.

Once the account has been restricted, Instagram will send you notifications or prompts for all future activity with this account. For example, you’ll be asked whether to make their comments public for everyone to see, or not.

To Recap

It’s super important to seek support if you’re a victim of cyber-bullying. Of course, talking to close friends or family would be highly beneficial. Yet, there’s plenty of other people trained in helping you to deal with this online “hate” to come out on top.

Anti-Bullying Alliance is just one of them but there are lots of great charities out there to help you. Some of them include Kidscape, Ni Direct, Support Line, Beyond Bullying and more.