Instagram has introduced a new tool that will allow users to turn on an abusive message filter for direct messages (DMs). It will work in a similar way to the comment filters Instagram already offers – which allow users to hide offensive comments and choose what terms they don’t want people to use in comments under their posts.
“We’re announcing a new way to protect people from seeing abusive DMs in the first place, as well as the ability to prevent someone you’ve blocked from contacting you from a new account,” reads a blog post from Instagram.
“We understand the impact that abusive content – whether it’s racist, sexist, homophobic, or any other kind of abuse – can have on people. Nobody should have to experience that on Instagram.”
But the social platform goes on to say that combatting abuse is a complex challenge and there isn’t one single step it can take to eliminate it completely.
“For example, we know that many in our community, particularly people with larger followings, have faced abuse in their DM request inbox from people they don’t follow.”
As it stands, Instagram does not proactively look for hate speech in DMs because they’re private conversations between users – this is why it’s taking a new approach by introducing a tool which, when turned on, will automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases or emojis.
“This tool focuses on DM requests because this is where people usually receive abusive messages – unlike your regular DM inbox, where you receive messages from friends.”
Users can turn both comment and DM request filters on and off in a new dedicated section of their Privacy Settings called Hidden Words. This feature will start rolling out in several countries in the coming weeks and expand to more countries over the next few months.