Instagram unveils new anti-bullying tools

WASHINGTON: Instagram will introduce new features aimed at curbing online bullying, the Facebook-owned platform announced on Monday, as social media giants face increased scrutiny over the harassment faced by many users. There have been growing calls around the world for greater oversight of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, amid widespread criticism over bullying, as well as the spread of hate speech and fake news.

The company said it has used artificial intelligence to monitor bullying and harmful content for years, and will now use the technology to detect when a user is about to post something offensive and issue a warning. “This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in a statement.

“From early tests of the feature, we have found that it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect.” The other new feature — “Restrict” — is aimed at limiting abusive comments on a user's feed.

“We've heard from young people in our community that they're reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they interact with their bully in real life,” Mosseri said.

Now they will be able to make posts from an offending person visible only to that person. “Restricted people won't be able to see when you're active on Instagram or when you've read their direct messages,” Mosseri added. Instagram's move is the latest in a series of steps taken by social networks to protect users, especially from younger segments of society.