Instagram Is Testing New Anti-Bullying Measures, Feature Includes Ability to Shadow Ban Specific Users

Instagram Is Testing New Anti-Bullying Measures, Feature Includes Ability to Shadow Ban Specific Users

Instagram has announced two new features aimed at reducing bullying on the platform in what the company claims is a step toward “leading the industry in the fight against online bullying.”

The first feature, which is still being tested, allows users to “shadow ban” individual accounts. Should you wish to use this feature on a particular user, only that user and yourself can see their comments on your posts, similar to Facebook’s "Hide" comment feature. Writing on the company’s blog, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri explained:

Once you Restrict someone, comments on your posts from that person will only be visible to that person. You can choose to make a restricted person’s comments visible to others by approving their comments. Restricted people won’t be able to see when you’re active on Instagram or when you’ve read their direct messages.

The second feature, however, generates a pop-up to users when it detects that the comment may be abusive, asking them: “Are you sure you want to post this?”

This is part of a number of new incentives from the photo-sharing app rolled out to improve its users mental health and overall experience. The company has also revealed they are debating removing like numbers in an effort to reduce self-esteem issues caused by the competitiveness of social media numbers.

This particular feature has already started rolling out, and according to Instagram, early results have been positive. “From early tests of this feature, we have found that it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect.”

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14 Comments

user-244549's picture

Thought policing by big business, that's always something to celebrate, right?

It's "anti-bullying" but not really, it's pro-censorship. That's all it is. Another cut in the thousands being used to finish off free speech and free expression.

It's Facebook's platform, so does some interpretation of "free speech" apply? Provided you interpret constitutionally protected free speech to mean the right to childishly insult someone.

If Fstoppers deletes this comment, I won't consider this an infringement of my constitutional right to free speech. I have a website and I will delete or not approve comments that are rude, spam, or don't contribute to the topic. I don't consider myself thought police for this.

user-244549's picture

I'm of the view that free speech is, indeed, free speech and that limits on such speech have already been tested in court.

As for the "private company" argument? It makes no sense at all in the context of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Reddit (and possibly Pinterest and a couple of others too). They hold a virtual monopoly position on online discourse and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

I fully support providing tools for users to switch off other users - in the same way that someone's right to free speech doesn't extend to their right to speak to me.

But tools to tell you "you're a naughty boy?" that's speech policing pure and simple and it's not needed. Tech companies have stepped entirely over the line and it is not for them to decide what constitutes acceptable speech or not.

Is the New York Times obligated to print your letter to the editor or risk violating the constitution?

Ted Mercede's picture

There is a difference here, social media is setup with the expectations that you can say/post what you want on your account, as well as to show photos as long as it meets the sites requirements or restrictions.
Sending a letter in to a newspaper, you shouldn't have any expectations that it would be printed.

I am ok with tools to limit or control what someone else can post on your own account, but anything that limits or restricts what you can post on your own account is wrong, IMO.

As the father of two teenage daughters and seeing the struggles they have with Instagram or Snapchat and the people they go to school with, I am glad they will have the shadow ban option. There are some poo-flinging teenagers out there. Blocking and/or unfriending seems to be able to cause a small-scale social war in certain circles in this demographic. I frankly don't care who follows or unfriends me, but I am in a different age group.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I don't understand, why not just block 'em. Done. Oh, that's right, because it'll also take away their follower counts.

Because blocking may provoke retaliation from the bully. This seems kind of silly, but in some circles it is a real social threat. For instance high school aged girls can engage in a lot of retaliatory behavior because of perceived slights on social media and this can be intimidating. This is a major way in which they socialize and communicate and the bullying and vindictiveness is real.

It doesn't seem important to an adult middle-aged man like me, but it seems to be crushing to others. Shadow banning seems like a helpful solution to this.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

The bullies can retaliate all they want. By blocking them, the targeted person isn't going to see it. So, who cares what the bullies do. If anything, have the satisfaction knowing it's going to piss off and infuriate them. Don't concern yourself with their feelings or if they felt slighted or not.

Are people really this fucking weak and politically correct they can't find it in themselves to block those that harass and/or annoy them because they may hurt the dirtbags' feelings?

You really have no clue, do you? What happens on instagram doesn’t stay on instagram, it carries over into schools and society. The bullied is going to see the retaliation of the bully because it is going to hit them in “real life.” There can be social and physical consequences to what happens on instagram. It has nothing to do with being weak or protecting the feelings of the bully, but protecting the bullied from “real life” consequences.

You are also comparing your feelings, those of a “mature adult,” to those of a teenager, an “immature adolescent” whose brain is not even fully developed yet and whose self image and self esteem fully rides on the opinions of their peers because they haven’t learned to not care what others think. So in the circles of younger generations, instagram has become a shouting box of the bully. Instagram has realized this and is rightly taking action to try to minimize this from happening.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Were you just born yesterday? How do you think we handled things before social media? Bullies happen because people allow it. Schools punish you for fighting back. When a bully gets their ass kicked, the response should be, "Oh, well. Too bad so sad."

Bunch of babies

lee arthur's picture

Forget about the free speech issue for a moment. The article quotes the Instagram official as saying they are hoping to lead the industry in anti bullinging with their new features. This I find praise worthy... However, Further in the article, they say these features are similar to ones currently on other platforms like Facebook. This does not sound like industry leaders. More like they are trying to play catch up to newer industry standards.

Steven Magner's picture

Facebook owns Instagram