Instagram has officially rolled out a new comments moderation tool as it seeks to make the Insta-community a safer place to share photos. For Instagram, which has over 500 million monthly users now, the comments moderation tool is to ensure people don’t face discrimination on the site; be it around gender, race, sexual orientation, disabilities or anything else.
Instagram’s approach is interesting because it will let users decide what sort of words they want blocked in their comments. There’s a list of pre-decided words that Instagram is giving as well, but a user can add their own to the tool as well. The Comments tab in settings now has an option box where users can add to this list of words, and switch on the ‘Hide Inappropriate Comments’ settings. So any comment with that word will automatically get blocked.
Instagram’s ‘Comment moderation’ tool is much needed, and should be lauded because it actually puts the power in the hand of each individual user. It also means a user won’t have to sit and delete abusive comments on their photos; if a blocked word is used it won’t show up at all. For any Instagram user with thousands of followers this will come as a big relief. Those who see a flood of comments on their photos won’t have to worry about sitting and deleting the abusive ones, well at least the ones that get blocked by the filtered keywords — you can easily get master lists of abusive words online to copy paste into your filter. Sure people will try different spellings for abusive words and get by, but this is at least a more concrete step from the company.
Plus a non-automated process means users can add words they might have faced in the past which could be offensive, but are really innocuous. For instance people might post comments like ‘ugly’ or ‘fat’ on pictures from a beach vacation, and while these are not abusive per se, they are certainly inappropriate.
On a platform like Instagram, such a tool holds great value. The social network for many is way to share their photos, which could include some of their most important life events. A vacation, their family pet, or just a night out with friends or birthday celebrations. At least the moderation tool ensures you can anticipate some of the filth and keep it out of the comments. Sharing pictures is also a very personal act by itself, and nobody wants nasty comments on these.
Instagram’s creators have realised that when it comes to tackling abuse, it has to be a two-way street with users getting some power on what they want to keep out. And that’s an important first step in setting things right.