Instagram rolls out new tools to filter abusive direct messages

Instagram has been working to help provide more protection for its community of users. Recently, Instagram talked about how it was working to combat abuse and hate speech on its platform by introducing stricter penalties for people who send abusive Direct Messages. The social network has now announced a new way to protect users from seeing abusive Direct Messages, to begin with.

Instagram also unveiled the ability to prevent someone who has been blocked from contacting you using a new account. The company says combating abuse is a complex challenge, and there isn't one single step that can be taken to eliminate it. Since DMs are private conversations, Instagram doesn't proactively look at hate speech or bullying in those messages like it does on other content on the network.

Instagram is introducing a new tool that users can turn on to automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases, and emojis. With the feature on, DM requests are automatically filtered, preventing the user from ever seeing them. The tool is specifically designed to work with DM requests because that is where the most abusive messages are typically received rather than in the regular DM inbox.

The system will work similarly to how comment filters work now. Users will have the ability to choose terms they don't want people to use, just as a can with filters on regular posts. Instagram worked with anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organizations to develop a list of offensive terms that are being filtered from DM requests.

However, users can create a custom list of words, phrases, and emojis they don't want to see in messages. Messages that violate those terms will be automatically filtered into a separate hidden requests folder. If users do open that folder, the message text will be covered, so they don't have to read the offensive language, but it can be tapped to uncover. Instagram also has a feature that prevents users who have already been blocked from contacting you again from a new account. That feature will be available in the next few weeks.