Instagram introduces a new feature to filter out abusive DMs automatically

The tool is targeted at celebrities and public figures who receive a large number of unwanted, harmful DMs

After facing regular backlash over cybersecurity from celebrities and public figures, Facebook-owned company Instagram has announced a new feature on Wednesday that will automatically filter abusive direct messages for users.

The Verge reported that the new tool introduced by Instagram will allow users to automatically filter out direct message requests containing offensive words, phrases, and emojis. The tool is targeted at celebrities and public figures who receive a large number of unwanted, harmful DMs. The new feature update by the photo-sharing platform will help combat users from hate speech on the platform. In February, the company said it would “begin disabling the accounts of users who sent multiple harassing messages”.

On a related note, in 2018, the company expanded its offensive comments filter to automatically block comments that attack a person’s appearance or character.

As per reports from The Verge, the message requests feature can be turned on or off by the users in a new section of the app titled ‘hidden words’.

When the feature will be enabled, offensive messages will be pushed to a separate folder. The messages stored in that folder will then be concealed, allowing users to browse messages without needing to read what they say. If a user taps into a message, they will be able to read, delete, or report it further.

According to an official statement given by the social media giant, it said that it worked with “leading anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organizations” to come up with a preset list of offensive phrases.

The Verge reported that users are also given freedom by the platform to customize their own list based on what they do find offensive and want to block.

Instagram shared that the new feature will roll out to “several countries” in the coming weeks, though it did not specify which countries those are. The company plans to expand to more countries in the next few months.

The company also announced that it is rolling out a tool to allow people to preemptively block new accounts from harassers. This will further allow users who block someone in the app, to block any new accounts that person creates. The feature will be pushed out globally in the next few weeks. 

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