Yes, Instagram Reels has been surprisingly funny despite just being a big ad for TikTok and yes, Twitter lighting up with memes every now and then has been literally what’s pulled us through this damn quarantine, but everyone can agree that social media is hella toxic for all of us. Just like the coffee and cigarettes though, we keep swearing it off only to go back again.
But in a bid to make it a little less damaging to our mental health, Instagram has been recently testing a feature that will automatically hide negative comments in posts. This targets comments that users have reported as inappropriate in the past.
Instagram has also updated its comment warning feature. For instance, if a user writes a hateful or inappropriate comment, a pop-up message will appear before posting the comment that will say, "This may go against our guidelines." The message will notify the user that if they post an offensive comment, it will likely be hidden and Instagram may investigate whether to delete the user's account.
Comments that are deemed or marked as offensive and which go against the app’s policies won’t be shown on the post and people will have to click the 'View Hidden Comments' to see them.
In an announcement on October 6, Instagram said, “Since launching comment warning, we saw that reminding people of the consequences of bullying on Instagram and providing real-time feedback as they are writing the comment is the most effective way to shift behavior.”
Instagram didn’t specify what kind of language or comments would be hidden through this Restrict feature.
“These new warnings let people take a moment to step back and reflect on their words and lay out the potential consequences should they proceed. We just started testing this feature in select languages” the company said.
More than 3.5 million users have used the Restrict feature to hide, delete or report accounts and comments in the last year. The announcement is being promoted as part of the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app’s amplification of the National Bullying Prevention Month, a campaign in the United States that runs through October, which aims to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.
Multiple studies have linked social media usage to mental health struggles. The JAMA Pediatrics Journal found that social media use could enhance symptoms of depression among young people, while one by the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that limiting social media use decreases loneliness and depression. While Facebook has heavily come under fire this year for overlooking hate speech posts by people in power and even seen advertisers fleeing from the platform and boycotting it, Instagram too has seen its fair share of hate. Some of its moves when it comes to weeding out problematic people promoting violence, however, have been appreciated.
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