Instagram is adding some new options to protect people from abusive DMs, with the capacity to filter DM requests that include offensive words, and a new way to stop users you've already blocked from contacting you via a different account.
The main addition is the new filter tool for DM requests.
As you can see here, soon, Instagram users will see a new option to 'Hide message requests', along with comments, within their 'Hide Offensive Content' options. When activated, any DMs people receive that include offensive terms, as defined by Instagram, will be added to a new 'Hidden Requests' folder in their message inbox.
If people do choose to check these filtered DMs, the specific message/s including the identified terms will be hidden unless they explicitly choose to uncover them (last frame above).
As you can see at the bottom of the first image, users will also be able to use their manually selected list of terms for comment filtering to be extended to their DMs, providing another way to avoid unwanted interactions.
As explained by Instagram:
"We’ve worked with leading anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organizations to develop a predefined list of offensive terms that will be filtered from DM requests when the feature is turned on. All DM requests that contain these offensive words, phrases, or emojis will be automatically filtered into a separate hidden requests folder."
The new initiative comes on the back of a range of new DM enforcement tools that Instagram announced back in February, after various high-profile incidents involving UK football stars.
Instagram unwittingly became the source of various incidents of race-based attacks against players from Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, among others, who were targeted via Instagram Direct. Manchester United, in a joint statement with Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City, condemned the incidents, and called on Instagram's parent company Facebook to do more to protect users from such, which lead to its initial response, which included tougher penalties for those found to be sending abuse via DM and a new option for personal accounts to switch off DMs from people that they don’t follow.
These new tools expand on those options, and will provide more ways for users to avoid unwanted contact, especially those in the public eye who regularly see abuse.
But of course, even those not in the public domain are regularly subjected to harmful actions, which means that these new options could have significant benefits, and help Instagram police abuse in DMs without invading user privacy.
Instagram says that it'll start rolling out the new DM filter option in several countries "in the coming weeks" before further expansion to all regions.
In addition to this, Instagram's also adding a new way to stop people you've blocked from simply creating a new account and coming after you again.
As you can see here, the new option enables you to either block a user as normal. or block them 'and new accounts they may create'. That process will use a person's IP and other identifiers to ensure that if they do go to create a new account and come at you again, you'll have to option to avoid such.
Which is a significant update. A key issue on all social platforms is that users who really want to harass you can do so by continuously creating new accounts. But by providing an option to block users, based on other technical factors, this could be a significant step towards providing more protection, and limiting ongoing abuse within the app.
Instagram says that the enhanced blocking tools will be available globally in the next few weeks.
These are important, valuable additions, which given the platform's recent history of such attacks, are significant, and will serve an important purpose.
Advanced detection and removal tools like this can go a long way towards providing a level of protection, and with incidents of violence and harassment online on the rise, this can only be a beneficial improvement.
Now for other platforms to follow suit, and implement similar blocks for those creating new accounts, specifically.