Harassment is a pervasive problem across many social networks, regardless of the level of anonymity they provide. While reporting tools, troll indexes and other initiatives help sites moderate content, individuals have few tools at their disposal for fending off harassment from other users.
Instagram hopes to change this by rolling out more nuanced tools for users to moderate their comments and pages. The new tool, which launched last month, allowed power users and celebrities to moderate their comments by blacklisting specific phrases, emojis and users. According to The Washington Post, Instagram will soon make the moderation tool available to all users.
Instagram head of public policy Nicky Jackson Colaco told the Post:
Our goal is to make Instagram a friendly, fun and, most important, safe place for self expression … We have slowly begun to offer accounts with high-volume comment threads the option to moderate their comment experience. As we learn, we look forward to improving the comment experience for our broader community.
Blacklisting has been available on Facebook for years and is nothing new when it comes to moderation. But giving users the ability to moderate their own pages could be a double-edged sword. Naturally, it could reduce the impact of trolls, but there will always be arguments questioning the nature of freedom of expression on social sites when these options are in play.
Giving users the means to moderate content could facilitate a more immediate response when they become the target of harassment and trolling. Likewise, moderation tools could be used to push out dissenting opinions and marginalize efforts at genuine discussions.
That said, if the content you post online is your own, there’s something to be said for controlling the discussion that happens around that content. Comments sections are notoriously problematic, and some may find a better experience by avoiding them entirely, which they will soon be able to do on Instagram.
Readers: What do you think about Instagram enabling users to moderate comments?
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