Instagram rolls out new feature to help fight bullying

Earlier this year, Instagram head Adam Mosseri declared that the social network wants to "lead the fight against online bullying."On Wednesday, the so...

Posted: Oct 2, 2019 8:49 AM

Earlier this year, Instagram head Adam Mosseri declared that the social network wants to "lead the fight against online bullying."

On Wednesday, the social media platform announced a new effort in that daunting task: it's rolling out globally a feature called "Restrict," a tool it's been testing since July.

When you "Restrict" another user, comments on your posts from that person are only visible to them, and not to other people. Restricted users also won't be able to see if you're active on Instagram at any given moment or if you've read their direct messages.

Users can also opt to make a restricted person's comments show up for others by approving their comments.

"The fact that Instagram is doing something is better than nothing," said Randi Priluck, a professor and associate dean at Pace University focused on social media and mobile marketing. "But the question is: How much will this help?"

Fifty-nine percent of US teens have been bullied or harassed online, according to a 2018 study from Pew. Another study conducted by a non-profit anti-bullying group found that 42% of cyberbullying victims between the ages of 12 and 20 said they were bullied on Instagram.

Instagram's reasoning for developing Restrict is that young Instagram users may be wary of blocking, unfollowing or reporting a bully because it could make the situation worse. Blocking or unfollowing the person could also make it harder to keep tabs on the bully's behavior.

If Restrict works as intended, it could offer a way for users to protect themselves without notifying the person who is bullying them.

Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and a professor at Florida Atlantic University, said the feature is a step in the right direction, but there are a number of factors that will determine its effectiveness.

"We need to see how it plays out at scale, and whether a critical mass of Instagrammers employ the feature," he said.

Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor at Syracuse University and social media expert, said Instagram should ensure that features such as Restrict don't end up being harmful to users or having unintended consequences such as escalating bullying situations further. Grygiel also encourages Instagram to share what their test results with Restrict showed, such as whether it reduced bullying.

This summer, the company also began rolling out a new tool that uses artificial intelligence to tell users when a comment could be considered offensive before it's posted.

Priluck praised that particular feature. "People say stuff without thinking about what they're saying. This is especially true of teenagers," she said. "The filter can help them realize that what they're saying may not be appropriate."

At an event with reporters in May, Instagram said it's working to better define what bullying on the platform looks like in all its forms. It's met with teens and parents to learn more.

In general, Instagram and its parent company Facebook have been experimenting with ways to make the social networks less toxic. One such effort is its recent tests to hide likes on Instagram and Facebook in order to reduce pressure and comparisons to other people.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
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Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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