Instagram has announced new features aimed at protecting users from seeing abusive DMs while also providing the ability to prevent a blocked user from attempting to contact you via a new account.
On Wednesday, the Facebook-owned social media platform shared an extended blog post detailing the latest updates and describing the combatting of abuse as a “complex challenge” that doesn’t have one single solution.
“Because DMs are private conversations, we don’t proactively look for hate speech or bullying the same way we do elsewhere on Instagram,” an Instagram spokesperson said on Wednesday. “That’s why we’re introducing a new tool which, when turned on, will automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases and emojis, so you never have to see them.”
This particular tool will specifically focus on DM requests, which is where users—as many of us have likely experienced firsthand—typically receive messages that could be abusive. Per Instagram, the feature will work in a similar fashion as comment filters, which allow users to hide offensive comments and/or select which terms will be hidden.
Comment and DM request filters will be able to be toggled on or off in a new section of Privacy Sections called Hidden Words. While Instagram says they’ve worked anti-discrimination and anti-bullying groups to put together a list of offensive terms that will be filtered when the featured is toggled on, users will also have the option to make their own custom list. All DM requests containing any such words or phrases (or even emoji) will be filtered into a hidden requests folder:
“If you choose to open the folder, the message text will be covered so you’re not confronted with offensive language, unless you tap to uncover it. You then have the option to accept the message request, delete it, or report it.”
As for taking aim at blocked users who try to make contact again using a fresh account, users will now have the the option of blocking the initial account, in addition to any future accounts that user may create. This tool is expected to roll out worldwide in the coming weeks.
In March, Instagram introduced a new feature that prevents adult users from sending messages to anyone under 18 who doesn’t follow them. Instagram also started using prompts and safety notices to encourage teens to be cautious when having conversations with adults to whom they’re already connected on the platform.