While Instagram already lets users delete comments made on their posted photos, the idea that highly offensive messages can sit there for some time before being noticed can leave some Instagrammers feeling uncomfortable.
So in its latest effort to keep the site clean and its burgeoning community happy, the company will soon roll out new tools that’ll let users switch on word and phrase filters to reduce the chances of a rude comment appearing in the discussion beneath their photo. It’ll also be possible to turn off comments altogether on a post-by-post basis.
Instagram’s head of public policy, Nicky Jackson Colaco, told the Washington Post this week that the phot0-sharing site’s goal is to become a “friendly, fun and, most importantly, safe place for self-expression,” with the new comment-related tools aimed at taking it toward its objective.
Colaco said the company has already started testing the feature with high-volume comment threads – read that as celebrity accounts – giving those users the power to shape the tone of conversations linked to each image.
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The new tools sound similar to the ones recently rolled out for business users. Besides the comment controls, the Facebook-owned company also uses a system of banned hashtags to prevent offenders promoting suspect images on the site, while an in-house team works to remove those images when it finds them.
Colaco didn’t offer a timeline for when the new comment options will be rolled out to regular users of the site, but the fact that he’s already speaking publicly about the feature suggests we shouldn’t have to wait too long.
The battle to keep their services free from offensive material and disruptive trolls is proving to be one of the greatest challenges for social media companies, with some handling the tricky matter better than others. In early 2015, for example, internal emails revealed Twitter’s frustrations at its failure to deal effectively with trolls. Since then, the company has taken significant steps to up its game in this area, although clearly there’s still plenty of work to do.