Instagram comment keyword filtering aims to hide harassment

Instagram is launching comment keyword filtering for all users, hoping to cut down on harassment on the photo-centric social network. The new feature offers Instagram users the option to enable a preset list of potentially offensive words which, if they're spotted in another person's comment, will automatically see that remark removed.

Those with more specific needs will be able to set up their own keyword moderation list, supplemented with their own choice of keywords.

"This is in addition to the tools we've already developed," Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, said today, "such as swiping to delete comments, reporting inappropriate comments and blocking accounts."

Worth noting is the fact that comments aren't actually deleted, even if they contain keywords you've filtered out. Instead, they're merely hidden from public view: if you later disable filtering, or the specific keyword in question, the comments will be visible again.

Exactly what's on Instagram's preset list of keywords is unclear at this point, the company only saying that it's built from words and phrases that are "often reported as inappropriate."

The new tool arrives amid outspoken criticism of user behavior on social networks like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and others, and of the options users have to protect themselves from hate speech and other unwanted content.

However, it also offers Instagram fans a way to avoid frequent spam comments inviting them to buy followers and "likes".

You can find the new system in the Instagram settings menu, accessible from the gear icon in the top right corner when you're looking at your own profile. Scroll down to "Comments" and there's a toggle to switch on Instagram's own list of words and phrases, as well as a box to enter your own desired filters: you can even choose to filter certain emoji.

You'll need to be running the latest version of Instagram in order to see it, however; that's available from the App Store and Google Play today. Meanwhile, Instagram points out that currently the preconfigured list is only available in English, while the custom keyword filtering isn't yet supporting languages without spaces, like Chinese, Japanese, and Thai.

Instagram previewed the system back in July, when it launched it first for businesses using the photo sharing service. Still missing for general users, though, is the option to switch off comments on a specific post only, something which was also added for Instagram's business users.

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