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Instagram is trying to make that much harder to be an asshole on its platform—and even get assholes to consider the error of their ways.

In a blog post on Monday, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced a two-pronged approach to fighting bullying on the platform, a familiar problem on social media that he said the company could do more to curb.

One new feature will flag comments deemed by artificial intelligence as potentially offensive before they’re posted, encouraging the posters to reconsider whether their thoughts should be shared. When a user attempts to post a comment flagged in this manner, they’ll see a pop-up with that asks them “to rethink comments that seem similar to others that have been reported.” According to Mosseri, Instagram is already rolling out this feature.

The other anti-bullying measure will put more power into the hands of those who are experiencing forms of harassment on the platform, allowing them to “Restrict” comments by another user, a setting that will make the restricted person’s comments on the user’s photos invisible to everyone but them. Users who have been Restricted “won’t be able to see when you’re active on Instagram or when you’ve read their direct messages,” Mosseri said.

Image: Instagram

The setting is meant as an alternative to blocking or unfollowing a harasser, which Instagram acknowledges can exacerbate an already delicate situation.

“It’s our responsibility to create a safe environment on Instagram,” Mosseri wrote. “This has been an important priority for us for some time, and we are continuing to invest in better understanding and tackling this problem.”

Mosseri said that the company’s initiatives around bullying are “especially crucial for teens,” who he noted are more likely to experience bullying and less likely to report it. The Instagram honcho additionally said that the company has used AI to help tackle the issue “for years.” In an October blog post, Mosseri wrote that Instagram was using machine learning to identify bullying in photos and captions.

Instagram may be owned and operated by an utterly abhorrent and morally bankrupt company that can’t seem to get its shit together, but I continue to maintain that it is—at least at present—the last good social network, depending on how you use it. And while doing the bare minimum to combat toxicity on their platforms should be inherent to the way social networks run their companies, many don’t.


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