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Instagram launches new features to combat harassment


Instagram has announced a new tool that will allow users to automatically filter out direct message requests that contain offensive words, phrases and emoticons. This tool is aimed at celebrities and public figures who receive a large amount of unsolicited and offensive direct messages.

The update is part of Instagram’s efforts to tackle hate speech on the platform. In February, the company said it would begin deactivating user accounts that sent multiple hate messages. In 2018, the company expanded its offensive comment filter to automatically block comments that were critical of a person’s appearance or personality.

The Send Message Filter can be turned on or off in a new section of the application called Hidden words. When enabled, offensive messages will be placed in a separate folder. Direct messages in this folder are hidden, allowing users to view messages without having to read offensive content. If a user clicks on a post, they can read, delete, or report it.

The company says it worked with “leading anti-discrimination and bullying organizations” to compile a predefined list of offensive phrases. Users can also customize their own list based on what they don’t want to see.

According to Instagram, the new feature will be rolled out to “multiple countries” in the coming weeks. However, the company did not elaborate on the list of specific countries. Instagram plans to expand the scope of this feature to other countries in the next few months.

As part of today’s announcement, Instagram also announced that it is starting to roll out another tool to help protect users from abuse and harassment. This feature will allow people to proactively block new accounts of stalkers. Now, when a user blocks someone in the application, they will have the option to also block any new accounts created by that same person. The company declined to specify how it works, stating only that it uses “different signals” to discover new accounts for the same users. This feature will launch globally in the next few weeks.

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