Instagram Text Filters Aim To Fight Online Abuse, But Trolls May Still Bypass Them Like They Did On Twitter


Instagram is the latest service to make efforts toward fighting online abuse, rolling out text filters to dismiss trolls. The question is, will it succeed?

These filters are pretty straightforward and easy to use, allowing users to filter out certain words that are commonly used in hate speech and abusive comments. Instagram is not the first one to resort to such measures and such tools are becoming increasingly important as online abuse is on the rise.

Twitter's Attempt At Blocking Tweets

Twitter flipped the switch to filter online abuse last month, rolling out a quality filter that allows users to block tweets from unwanted sources or tweets containing certain keywords. Up until that update, Twitter users were only able to filter out their tweets if they had verified accounts.

The thing is, trolls still found a way to bypass Twitter's filters. As laudable as the effort is, it's still not troll-proof and it can be cracked. As Bloomberg pointed out at the time, trolls managed to outsmart Twitter's keyword-based filters by intentionally misspelling words that would otherwise be flagged as abusive.

For instance, if a Twitter user set a filter for the word "slut," they would no longer get tweets containing that word. Misspelling the word, however, allowed trolls to bypass the filter and get their message through.

How To Use Instagram Text Filters

Instagram's tools against online abuse are not that different from Twitter's. First off, using these Instagram text filters is fairly easy: just go to your profile, tap the three dots at the top right of the screen to access options, then scroll down to Comments under Settings. From there, simply toggle the switch for "Hide Inappropriate Comments."

This will automatically block any comments that contain words commonly deemed inappropriate, but it also allows users to customize it by setting their own words they want to block. Once you put a word on that list, any comments containing the said word should be filtered out.

Are Instagram Filters Enough To Curb Hate Speech?

While it sounds good in theory, Instagram's new text filters in practice could have the same fate as Twitter's filters for hate speech, blocking messages containing specific words, but letting misspelled versions of those words slip through the cracks.

Preventing online harassment is no easy task and as the number of trolls is on the rise, one can't help but wonder if such filters can indeed combat the issue or are merely scratching the surface.

If you've already used Twitter's or Instagram's text filters to fight online abuse, drop by our comment section below and tell us about your experience. Did the filters do the trick to rid you of trolls for good, or did abusive comments bypass this prevention tool?

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