Instagram on 26 September launched a handful of new tools to combat harassment and help its community members.
The first of those is much requested: the ability to limit who can comment on your photos. Instagram now gives everyone with a public account the ability to limit comments to only people they follow, only their followers, or both their followers and people they follow. Public and private accounts will continue to have the ability to turn off comments entirely, but it appears to still be on a post-by-post basis.
Instagram is also expanding its offensive comment filter to four other languages: Arabic, French, German, and Portuguese. The tool launched in English in June, and is supposed to use AI and machine learning to improve over time and take into account both the wording of a comment and the context it’s being written in.
For live videos, Instagram is also adding the ability for viewers to send mental health resources to the broadcaster mid-stream. This could be a really meaningful addition for the platform, particularly since the launch of Facebook Live, there have been occasional news stories about people broadcasting self-harm and death. Giving viewers a way to present help line information and assistance to the streamer could avert some of these tragic incidents.
BuzzFeed News reports that Instagram already allowed its users to report posts for including references to self-harm and suicide and would present reported posters with resources to get assistance; but it says the difference now is that Instagram will actively pop up its information in the middle of a live stream, rather than waiting until it’s ended to offer help to the streamer. A stream won’t stop just because the information has popped up, so streamers will be able to ignore it or read it and then return to their broadcast.