Instagram Launches a New Function To Help Fight ‘bullying’

New York (CNN Business) – Earlier this year, Instagram director Adam Mosseri said the social network wants to “lead the fight against‘ cyberbullying ’or online harassment.”

On Wednesday, the social media platform announced a new effort in that daunting task: it is globally implementing a function called “Restrict”, a tool that it has been testing since July.

When you "restrict" another user, the comments in that person's posts are only visible to them and not to other people. Restricted users will also not be able to see if you are active on Instagram at any given time or if you have read their direct messages.


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Users can also choose to have comments from a restricted person displayed to others by approving their comments.

"The fact that Instagram is doing something is better than nothing," said Randi Priluck, associate professor and dean at Pace University focused on social networks and mobile marketing. "But the question is: how much will this help?"

59% of American teenagers have been harassed or harassed online, according to a 2018 Pew study. Another study by a nonprofit antibullying group found that 42% of cyberbullying victims between the ages of 12 and 20 said they were intimidated on Instagram.

The reasoning of Instagram to develop “Restrict” is that young Instagram users can distrust blocking, stop following or report a stalker because it could make the situation worse. Blocking or unfollowing the person could also make it harder to control the stalker's behavior.

If “Restrict” works as intended, it could offer a way for users to protect themselves without notifying the person who is bullying them.

Instagram is launching the "Restrict" mode worldwide.

Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and a professor at Florida Atlantic University, said the characteristic is a step in the right direction, but there are a number of factors that will determine its effectiveness.

"We need to see how it develops at scale, and if a critical mass of instagrammers employs the function," he said.

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Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor at Syracuse University and an expert on social networks, said Instagram should ensure that functions such as “Restrict” do not end up being harmful to users or have unwanted consequences, such as intensifying situations of bullying. . Grygiel also encourages Instagram to share what their test results showed with "Restrict," as if it reduced bullying.

This half of the year, the company also began implementing a new tool that uses artificial intelligence to inform users about when a comment could be considered offensive before being published.

Priluck praised that particular feature. “People say things without thinking about what they are saying. This is especially true for teenagers, ”he said. "The filter can help them realize that what they say may not be appropriate."

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At an event with reporters in May, Instagram said it is working to better define what bullying looks like on the platform in all its forms. He met with teenagers and parents to learn more.

Overall, Instagram and its parent company Facebook have been experiencing ways to make social networks less toxic. One of those efforts is his recent tests to hide the likes on Instagram and Facebook to reduce pressure and comparisons with other people.