Instagram confirms testing of new anti-harassment tool, Limits, designed for times of crisis – TechCrunch

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri confirmed that the company is testing a new feature called “Limits,” which would give users the option of temporarily locking their accounts when they are the target of a flood of harassment. The announcement of the new feature was made today in a video in which Mosseri condemned the recent racism that took place on Instagram’s platform after the Euro 2020 final, and noted that the company was working on improvements to internal and customer-facing tools to help resolve this issue. problem.

The company had previously commented on and condemned the racist abuse, which saw England footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho viciously harassed by angry fans making racist comments after the team’s loss earlier this month. Mosseri explained that at the time, the company was using technology to try to prioritize user reports and mistakenly marked some reports as benign comments instead of sending them back to human moderators. One of the possible complications was that many harassing comments used emoji, which Instagram’s systems may have struggled to understand, given that emoji can have different meanings in different contexts.

Today, Mosseri again acknowledged Instagram’s error and noted that he has since fixed the issue. He said Instagram proactively swept away comments from footballers, but did not anticipate the wave of user reports.

He also pointed out that Instagram receives millions of user reports per day and that even 1% of them get it wrong leads to tens of thousands of problematic posts that remain on the platform by mistake.

Mosseri then mentioned several user tools that could help people deal with harassment more directly on their own accounts to prevent abuse. This includes Instagram tools like Block and Restrict. The latter is a tool that allows users to approve a user’s comments before someone else sees them or read someone’s posts without sending a read receipt. Another more recently added tool called Hidden Words allows users to block certain keywords in comments and direct messages.

He added that Instagram is also testing a new tool called Limits, which would allow users to lock out their accounts in a “time of risk.” This feature could have helped footballers, as it would have offered simple settings to limit unwanted comments and reactions.

The functionality had been Point earlier this month by social media consultant Matt Navarra, who shared screenshots of how it works, but Instagram has yet to officially announce it.

In the shared images, users of the feature would find a new section called Limits in Instagram’s privacy controls, which explained that they could temporarily limit comments and posts from specific groups of subscribers.

Users can then enable or disable groups to limit, including recent subscribers and accounts that don’t follow you, as these could include accounts that were spam or those created just to harass you. As is often the case, when there is a flood of abuse coming in, it won’t come from longtime subscribers of an account, but rather newcomers who have searched for the account just to harass them.

The feature will also allow users to set a duration for the limits in terms of number of days or even weeks.

An Instagram spokesperson also confirmed that the feature is working as shown in the images, noting that it would be a tool that would help people deal with “intense cases of harassment or abuse.”

“Maybe you’re in high school and you’re going through a breakup or you’ve just changed schools. Or maybe you are a professional footballer and get harassed a lot, ”Mosseri explained, explaining how limits could come in handy in different situations. “Either way, we know that people are sometimes in temporary times of real risk of pain, and we want to give them tools to protect themselves in these situations,” he added.

Instagram declined to say when the feature will become available to the public, but noted that it is currently being tested on mobile in some countries.

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