Instagram has today announced a few updated guidelines governing abusive behavior and hateful speech in messages. The Facebook-owned social media platform has announced that repeat offenders will have their accounts disabled if they send abusive messages that violate Instagram’s code of conduct governing hate speech.
Right now, Instagram only prevents an account from sending any more messages once it is found engaging in such behavior. But thanks to the policy update, a repeat offense will get these accounts disabled. Additionally, new accounts created to circumvent the ban will also be disabled. Furthermore, the company will keep an eye on accounts that are created solely for the purpose of harassing other people, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against them as well.
Instagram is also expanding the ability to disable direct messages from poeple you don’t follow. So far, this feature has been limited to business accounts, but Instagram has started to extend it to personal accounts as well, and aims to make it available for all users widely.
Additionally, users can also disable tags and mentions from accounts that are unfamiliar to them. Instagram says it is also working on a new feature that will address the distress that people experience after seeinbg abusive messages in the first place. The company hasn’t revealed much about it, but says that it will be released in the coming months.
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Instagram has reaffirmed its commitment to working with law enforcement agencies when it comes to handling cases of abusive behavior on its platform. However, controlling hate speech in comments or public posts is much easier compared to direct messages, as the latter comes with the risk of violating user privacy. This is a slippery slope for Instagram, because unlike WhatsApp and ‘vanish mode’ conversations on Messenger, direct messages on Instagram are not end-to-end encrypted.
Instagram is also aware of the aforementioned privacy aspect when it comes to regulating direct messages on its platform. “The abuse we’re seeing is happening a lot in people’s Direct Messages (DMs), which is harder to address than comments on Instagram. Because DMs are for private conversations, we don’t use technology to proactively detect content like hate speech or bullying the same way we do in other places,” the company mentioned in a blog post.
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