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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: 252475

Reported Deaths: 5521
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17120175
Hinds16207322
Harrison13353193
Rankin10689211
Jackson10303183
Lee8796141
Madison8232162
Jones6288110
Forrest5949119
Lauderdale5847180
Lowndes5355116
Lafayette494292
Lamar484165
Washington4777123
Bolivar3966108
Oktibbeha392480
Panola368378
Pontotoc362853
Monroe3533105
Warren348498
Union343060
Marshall341665
Neshoba3370152
Pearl River327899
Leflore3002105
Lincoln297085
Sunflower282669
Tate270862
Hancock266559
Alcorn263253
Itawamba262459
Pike262077
Scott246245
Prentiss245052
Yazoo244355
Copiah240849
Tippah240450
Simpson234867
Leake230564
Coahoma230054
Grenada217770
Covington211371
Marion210672
Adams204670
Winston200164
Wayne199630
George199038
Attala193559
Newton191342
Tishomingo184459
Chickasaw183644
Jasper169735
Holmes168567
Clay159033
Stone142320
Tallahatchie140134
Clarke138660
Calhoun135721
Smith120123
Yalobusha116534
Walthall111836
Noxubee110322
Greene109729
Montgomery109434
Carroll104221
Lawrence102417
Perry101631
Amite97725
Webster92224
Tunica86321
Claiborne86125
Jefferson Davis84125
Humphreys82924
Benton81523
Kemper77120
Quitman6888
Franklin66415
Choctaw60313
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53819
Sharkey42717
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 422598

Reported Deaths: 6120
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62039921
Mobile30225548
Madison27052186
Tuscaloosa20728267
Montgomery18978305
Shelby18504114
Baldwin16251182
Lee12465101
Morgan12233113
Etowah11735168
Calhoun11122200
Marshall10191107
Houston8598148
Cullman8023105
Limestone800274
Elmore7836101
DeKalb768397
Lauderdale754683
St. Clair7535120
Talladega6166108
Walker5897174
Jackson580341
Colbert532073
Blount530483
Autauga518455
Coffee441056
Dale396181
Franklin366248
Chilton336165
Russell330310
Covington327268
Escambia316842
Dallas303196
Chambers282769
Clarke281433
Tallapoosa2616107
Pike248729
Marion245650
Lawrence243647
Winston226635
Bibb215147
Geneva201435
Marengo199029
Pickens196531
Hale175842
Barbour172936
Butler169658
Fayette168226
Cherokee160330
Henry153621
Monroe145217
Randolph139835
Washington137626
Clay126145
Crenshaw118744
Lamar118019
Cleburne117423
Macon114735
Lowndes110335
Wilcox103121
Bullock99028
Perry97419
Conecuh94420
Sumter89026
Greene76023
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
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