While the growth of social media has given users the ability to keep in touch with their loved ones and connect with other people with similar interests, it has also provided a new avenue for harassment.
Different platforms have responded in various ways against cyber bullying — and the latest move against online harassment is about to be made by picture-sharing service Instagram.
According to a report by the Washington Post, the Facebook-owned Instagram will soon launch new tools against harassment that will give users the freedom to choose which comments can be posted on their accounts.
Instagram currently has general policies on the acceptable speech that users can post when commenting on pictures uploaded on the network. However, what users consider as offensive comments vary for different people, and the new tools will either allow users to filter out the comments that they do not want to see or completely turn off comments on the pictures they upload to their accounts.
For users who decide to allow comments, they can create their own list of banned words. Any comments with one of the banned words will be automatically hidden. For those who decide to disable comments, they can do so on a picture-by-picture basis.
"Our goal is to make Instagram a friendly, fun and, most importantly, safe place for self expression," said Nicky Jackson Colaco, head of public policy for Instagram.
Colaco added that they have started to roll out the new features to users with "high volume comment threads," which means the famous people on Instagram, but the tools will soon be rolled out to all the users on the platform.
The tools are being rolled out first to high-profile Instagram accounts as this will provide the most feedback on the features for any glitches or possible improvements. It is expected that the tools will arrive to all users within the succeeding months.
With Instagram reporting that it has achieved the milestone 500 million users on the platform last month, such tools against online harassment are becoming more important to protect user accounts. Social media platforms have been accused of promoting harassment if they do nothing about cyber bullying and of being too strict if they implement stringent policies. By soon giving its users the ability to filter comments themselves, Instagram can help users fight back against online harassment while still giving them the freedom of choice.