News surfaced last week that Instagram will deploy a filtering feature to trim out certain words appearing in comments on their posts, and it recently provided it to select users.
In a move to stop trolls, spammers and other mischievous commenters from putting a show on Instagram, the company introduced a novel filter that allows users to manually ban certain terms from appearing in the comments of their posts. When a banned term has been detected in a comment, the app will simply hide it.
The initiative was first reported by The Washington Post, which explained that the option will land first and foremost on accounts of celebrities. One prominent example is model Chrissy Teigen, who posted a screenshot on Twitter detailing what she no longer wants to see appear in her comment section. This means the filter is already rolling out.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 2, 2016
Nicky Jackson Colaco, the helm of Instagram's public policy, explained that the feature is designed with the intent to make the social network "a friendly, fun and, most importantly, safe place for self-expression."
The company has chosen to allow maximum customization to users, instead of simply banning certain terms on its end. This takes into account the huge differences between users, which means that while some might find a word disturbing, others could use it quite comfortably.
Instagram points out that although only high-volume users are able to use the service at the moment, the feature will become commonly available soon enough.
Instagram faced some criticism over copycatting Snapchat and some even wondered which one of the platforms is best at taking care of its users. However, it should be noted that the photo-sharing social network is spearheading the assault against cyberbullying, and the customizable word filter is one great way to go about it.
Once the new word-policing feature becomes available to the massive crowd of Instagrammers, other social networks could be inspired to follow suit.
A bit of a surprise comes from the lack of such a feature on Twitter, a platform that has faced massive public issues with user harassment. What is more, the Twitterverse is more focused on words than the image-centric Instagram, making the absence of a word filter even more troublesome.
During its Q2 2016, Instagram reported its user number as topping 500 million. The growth seems to be stable and sustainable, as three out of five users logged in the photo-sharing platform on a daily basis.
We look forward to seeing the word filter go live on as many accounts as possible, as everyone can agree that a cleaner online environment can reap the benefits of having a safeguard against slurs, spam messages and direct threats.