In recent months, Instagram has finally stated rolling out tools that let users combat abuse. First, Instagram added the ability to block specific words from your comments, and today it is adding a host of other tools to keep trolls out of your account. The company says all the new features will be available in the coming weeks. First up is a tool that'll let you remove comments entirely from your posts. When creating a new Instagram post, you'll find an "advanced settings" menu where you can turn off comments for that image. You can also reverse course and turn commenting back on if you so choose. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like you can shut off comments globally in your account; hopefully Instagram will add that option next.
Instagram isn't just shutting down comments, though -- it's also adding the ability to "heart" a specific comment in the hopes that it'll "show support" for users and "encourage positively throughout the community." Hard to say if this will make a difference, but it's good to see Instagram proactively try and make comments a happier place.
The next new privacy feature is focused on private accounts. If you have your account set to private, you'll have to approve new followers, like always. But now you can actively remove individual followers if you change your mind about who you let see your photos. Previously, you had to take the more aggressive move of blocking someone to get them off your followers list. Instagram says that people you remove from your private followers list won't be notified when you flip that switch.
Lastly, there's a new option to anonymously report what Instagram calls "self-injury" posts. If you see a post from someone you're following that makes you worry for their well-being and think they might harm themselves, this feature lets you flag the photo for review. Instagram says it has a team working 24/7 that will then reach out to the user and connect them with resources that can offer help. It's an interesting feature, but it also feels like something that trolls could potentially use to harass others. We're reaching out to Instagram to see how the company plans to keep that from happening and will update this post with more details if we hear anything.
Those concerns aside, these features are most welcome -- if the last year has showed us anything, it's that online communities need to provide their users with tools to battle abuse. Without those sort of tools, users are likely to flee the platform or use it far less -- so including these tools is smart for business, not just for the platform's users. While we wish Instagram had been faster to roll out these new features, they're still most welcome.