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Hey Instagram bully, you might want to rethink that hurtful comment

Facebook-owned Instagram wants to weed out hateful comments before they appear.

Hey Instagram bully, you might want to rethink that hurtful comment
[Photo: Alex Ware/Unsplash]

Facebook’s Instagram said today it is launching new tools designed to combat bullying on its platform, especially among teens.

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One tool, which Instagram has already begun rolling out to users, is focused on would-be bullies. It uses artificial intelligence to notify users when a comment they’ve just composed might be considered offensive. “This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification,” says Instagram head Adam Mosseri in a blog post Monday. “From early tests of this feature, we have found that it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect,” he writes.

[Photo: courtesy of Instagram]
The second tool, which Instagram says will begin rolling out soon, is meant to empower the (potential) victim. Posters can “restrict” the accounts of certain users so that comments from those users are visible only to them, not other users. This feature follows the logic that actually unfriending a bully might lead to other consequences, especially if the poster knows the bully in the real world. “You can choose to make a restricted person’s comments visible to others by approving their comments,” Mosseri writes. “Restricted people won’t be able to see when you’re active on Instagram or when you’ve read their direct messages.”

[Photo: courtesy of Instagram]
It’s unclear if these features will be turned on by default, or if they’ll be turned on by default only for users under a certain age. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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About the author

Fast Company Senior Writer Mark Sullivan covers emerging technology, politics, artificial intelligence, large tech companies, and misinformation. An award-winning San Francisco-based journalist, Sullivan's work has appeared in Wired, Al Jazeera, CNN, ABC News, CNET, and many others.

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