Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Instagram is slowly releasing an anti-abuse comment filter

As rumored last week, Instagram is now letting some of its users ban certain words from appearing in comments on their posts. The photo-sharing social network has now introduced a new filter that users can manually customize by adding words of their choosing that they want excluded, potentially allowing them to ban trolls, spammers, and other nefarious figures from leaving offensive or annoying messages on personal accounts.

The Washington Post first reported Instagram's plans to add such a filter last week, explaining that the option would soon be available to certain high-volume users. Model Chrissy Teigen is apparently one such user: Teigen posted a screenshot of the new feature on Twitter, her custom keywords including several insults, "Trump," "Colon," and "Cleanse."

Describing the feature to the Washington Post, Nicky Jackson Colaco — Instagram's head of public policy — said it was the company's goal to make the social network "a friendly, fun and, most importantly, safe place for self expression." Rather than implement a blanket ban on certain words, Colaco said the option gave users the chance "to moderate their comment experience." While celebrities are already getting their hands on the filter, Instagram says the feature will soon be made available to all users in some form.

Instagram has faced criticism in the past few days for copying Snapchat, but in adding a customizable word filter, the photo-sharing social network is leading the pack in fighting harassment. It's particularly surprising that Twitter hasn't taken this kind of approach earlier. Twitter has had huge and much-publicized problems with user harassment, and even more so than the picture-centric Instagram, has a focus on text and words. A user-defined filter seems a simple way to allow its users to avoid direct threats, slurs, and triggers, or even to just simply skip the kind of irritating spam comments that even the most occasional poster has to put up with.

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