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Instagram’s Restrict Anti-Bullying Tool Is A Great Effort But Unsolicited DMs? You Might Still Get Those

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“Then he commented, ‘And those tyres make yet another appearance’ on my photo and almost 6 people liked it. I feel like such a fool for posting it and now I don’t want to go to school tomorrow! They will obviously call me out on the picture!” my 15-year-old cousin wailed in front of me as she narrated yet another incident about how this guy keeps picking on her to maintain his sad ‘stud’ type positioning in high school. And while, it sometimes seem trivial to me, I could relate to the feeling of being bullied.

On the daily, hundreds of kids and even adults, go through bullying and ragging by the hands of those who have a misplaced a sense of social superiority. Sometimes it an annoying friend in a group, sometimes it is your boss and sometimes just acquaintances who think it is funny to socially shame a person. And with the ever growing use of social media platforms, the ways to bully someone have evolved far beyond imagination, and it was about time for these social media platforms to assume responsibility, a step Instagram has now finally decided to take.

In the wake of the ever increasing cases of social bullying, Instagram is planning to come up with a few and innovative ways to tackle the matter at hand. They mean to do it by two broad actions, one that will be aimed at the bullies, and other that will be aimed at the ones getting bullied. Their idea is to initiate a pop-up for every time anyone comments something that would be interpreted as offensive or negative, based on the kinds of messages that usually get reported. And on the other side, a new option of ‘Restrict’ would be made available to users now, which would allow them to restrict the individuals who they identify as bullies. Subsequently, the comments made by people who have been restricted, will not be visible to anyone apart from the one who has restricted them. The perpetrator will also not be able find out if they have been restricted.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram admitted how they can do more in the matter and commented, “We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves. Today we’re announcing one new feature in both areas. These tools are grounded in a deep understanding of how people bully each other and how they respond to bullying on Instagram, but they’re only two steps on a longer path.”

The idea is to make a bully reflect on whether they really want to drop a comment that may just come off as offensive and simultaneously put the ones getting bullied in a position of power to control the comments and DMs they receive on their profile. And while we appreciate the efforts and can’t wait for the test runs to start soon, we can’t help but point out how the intent may not be fully able to deliver what is expected.

The tools that allow to restrict a person doesn’t mean that this person cannot message or comment or send you a DM. And yes, you have the option of hiding it from the world, but for someone who is being sent such comments and messages, anyway feels brought down by reading them, whether the other people see it or not. If anything, it may just inflict a feeling of running away from the problem than head-on addressing it, because bullying does take a mental toll on you. But then again we do acknowledge that as a social media platform and tool, there is only so much that you can do in your capacity, and these are a few inevitable hiccups that come with ragging and bullying.

We are yet to see the response for such tools, and if Mosseri’s words are anything to go by, hopefully more prudent developments shall be seen on not just Instagram but Twitter as well. Until then, we must learn to stand up and say no to bullying or to getting bullied. Change after all, begins at home.


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