Curbing the spread of hate speech and misinformation on social media platforms is a critical challenge for governments worldwide. Social media giants have introduced multiple tools to check the menace. However, there is much more required to be done to combat hate speech and abuse. Instagram has said that it is rolling out a new feature that will mainly shield people from abuse in direct messages. The popular photo-sharing app had received several complaints on abuse in DMs. The company said that the new feature comes with the ability to prevent a blocked account from contacting the victim from a new account. The Facebook-owned platform had in past reported that blocked users create new accounts to circumvent policy that prevents them from contacting another user.
Instagram in a blog post said that the new feature is specially designed to protect users from offensive or abusive DM requests. Earlier in February, Instagram brought an update to check abuse and hate speech on the platform. It added penalties for those sending abusive DMs. Instagram said that it wants nobody to experience such an experience. It, however, admitted that battling abuse and hate speech is a complex challenge. It added that although several steps are being taken to combat it, it is very difficult to eliminate it completely. DMs on Instagram are private conversations. It doesn’t look for hate speech proactively in the similar capacity it does anywhere.
Instagram said that when the new tool is turned on, it will filter DM requests automatically. The algorithm will filter requests after analyzing offensive words, phrases, and emojis in the DMs. Once filtered, users will not get to see such requests. The tool has been developed with a focus on eliminating DM requests containing hate speech and abuse. Users can turn off the tool. The new tool is called Hidden Words. Instagram has added the tool in a dedicated section under the Privacy Settings option. According to Instagram’s claim, it acted against more than 6 million hate speeches including in direct messages between July and September last year. Instagram said that it will bring more controls to combat abuse on the platform.