As with many things in life, bullying is a two-way street. To prevent it from taking place, the bully should be able to be prevented from harming someone else and the bullied should be empowered to take action and represent themselves without fear of repercussions. Instagram, which can be a hotbed for interpersonal conflict, has been ramping up anti-bullying measures in recent months and has just brought in two new tools to let bullies rethink what they want to say and to let the bullied manage their counterpart's presence on their posts.
The bullying prevention tool comes into action when someone is making a comment. Instagram's artificial intelligence may pick up on certain words that would lead it to deem a comment hurtful. After the commenter presses "post" on such a message, the app will pop up a prompt, asking if the user would want to post this. The commenter can opt to let Instagram know if they think their AI missed the mark or undo their post.
On the other hand, a new function called "Restrict" will allow users to manage how bullies can interact with them, their content, and with other commenters on the post. Restricting a bully means that any comments they leave on your posts will only be visible to them, not other users, unless you approve them. Anyone who is restricted will also not be able to see when you've seen their direct messages or when you're on Instagram. People who fear repercussion from openly calling out their oppressors might be able to get by through managing their relationship to have as little impact as possible.
These tools are rolling out to users today. While they might be used for purposes other than what they were intended for, they also do serve as user-side content moderation measures — social platforms are under pressure to accept responsibility for the role they have in propagating misinformation, hate speech, and mean-spirited engagement against vulnerable targets like kids.