Instagram rolled out a new feature that will allow all users to decide how they want to be able to moderate comments within the photo-sharing service. This custom comment keyword blacklist was made, at first, available to business accounts in July, but now Instagram sees fit to release it for all users.
It makes sense—online abuse has risen dramatically over the past several years. And while there should be room for public criticism online, unnecessary ridicule and abuse of this freedom should not be tolerated. It is one thing to be able to share an honest—and true—experience about a business (and now, a person) but it is another thing entirely to simply post inflammatory comments for no other purpose than to cause trouble.
Since Instagram is, essentially, a public sharing service and forum, users are obviously going to be vulnerable to bullies and trolls. So these new features help to lower instances of abuse and attempt to keep comments helpful even when they might be critical.
“The beauty of the Instagram community is the diversity of its members. All different types of people — from diverse backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and more — call Instagram home, but sometimes the comments on their posts can be unkind,” explains Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom, via Instagram’s blog, in regards to the obvious need for such comment moderation tools.
Indeed, this moves come at a crucial time in the life of social media: a time when networks are racing to stop or defeat personal attacks and abuse within these public platforms.
He goes on to say, “To empower each individual, we need to promote a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment. It’s not only my personal wish to do this, I believe it’s also our responsibility as a company.”
Fortunately, Instagram has found this necessary before the bullying has gotten out of hand. Its blacklist of comments is actually similar in nature to one that Twitter is devising but after a long battle over such abuses, many regard Twitter’s efforts as too little too late. If Instagram, then, can rein this in, they might be able to occupy one of the safest sharing spaces on the internet. And should they manage this, it will certainly make it easier for the company to continue rolling out the other updates it has been planning (like more personalized and relevant comments) in the future.