Instagram unveiled its latest plan to combat online bullying this week when it announced a new filter that hides comments that attack a person’s appearance, character, or threatens a person’s wellbeing or health
The anti-bullying filter is automatically on, and alerts Instagram to repeat problems with bullying, along with hiding bullying comments.
“It’s been our goal to make (Instagram) a safe place for self-expression and to foster kindness within the community. This update is just the next step in our mission to deliver on that promise,” Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom said in a blog post this week.
The new filter is an addition to last year’s offensive comment filter, which hides “toxic and divisive” comments aimed at “at-risk” groups.
Bullying prevention charity Kidscape called the measure a “positive step” but said that technology such as this filter isn’t the sole solution to online bullying. “A filter is no substitute for talking about what is acceptable and what is not, supporting each other and role modelling”, the charity said in a Tweet.
"Teaching young people about healthy communication online and reminding that there is a person at the other end of their message is important in building a safer online environment. It is also vital for adults to be role models and to demonstrate kindness and respect. While technology has a role to play, every person plays a part in making the internet a healthier, safer place" Kidscape said in a statement to Happiful.
Although bullying is not the fault of the person being bullied, Kidscape recommends the following steps to prevent bullying:
Don't respond: Never get involved in arguments online, as this will only escalate the situation and make it much worse.
Block the bullies: You can easily prevent cyberbullies from being able to contact you by following our cyber safe settings.
Increase your privacy: Unfortunately, some people use the internet to cause harm to others. Don't let this small group ruin your experience, but be sensible with the information you share. Follow our privacy guidelines to keep yourself protected.
Respect your online presence: It is easy to forget that the cyber world is the real world, and what you share online can have huge consequences. It is therefore so important that you always think before you post!
If you are a parent worried about your child being bullied, Kidscape offers a non-emergency Anti-bullying Parent Advice Line and an email advice service.