Social media might not be the safest of spaces for all users, but Instagram, at least, is taking a tangible step to address the problem on its platform.

The company has introduced a keyword moderation tool that allows users to automatically prevent comments containing words they don’t want to see from appearing on their posts.

“When [co-founder] Mike [Krieger] and I first created Instagram, we wanted it to be a welcoming community where people could share their lives,” co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom wrote in a Sept. 12 blog post. “Over the past five years, I’ve watched in wonder as this community has grown to 500 million, with stories from every corner of the world.”

“With this growth, we want to work diligently to maintain what has kept Instagram positive and safe, especially in the comments on your photos and videos,” he continued.

Noting that it’s not only his “personal wish,” but Instagram’s responsibility as a company, to promote an inclusive user culture, Systrom wrote that his company’s new tool was only the first in a series of features dedicated to protecting users from inappropriate criticism and harassment.

To use the new tool, users need only access their Settings menu, where they’ll find a new “Comments” option that invites them to list words they consider offensive. Comments containing those words will then automatically be hidden from future posts.


As Systrom mentioned, this isn’t the first tool Instagram has developed to curb online harassment; other features include giving users the ability to delete comments by swiping right, allowing them to report inappropriate comments, and blocking accounts.

“We know tools aren’t the only solution for this complex problem, but together, we can work towards keeping Instagram a safe place for self-expression,” he wrote.

Nor is Instagram the only social network to face issues with online harassment: Earlier this year Twitter Inc. created a new Trust and Safety Council in response to its own online harassment problems, such as this summer’s high-profile abuse of Saturday Night Live performer and Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.

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