How Instagram's new features could stop your teen getting bullied on the photo sharing site

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Instagram is taking a stand against bullying, announcing the release of a new set of tools designed to make the platform  "safer, kinder and more supportive" for users. 

"There is no place for bullying on Instagram," says Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri in a blog post. "If people see that kind of hurtful behaviour on our platform, they can report it, and we remove any content that violates our guidelines. But online bullying is complex, and we know we have more work to do to further limit bullying and spread kindness on Instagram."

Here are some of the features:

A new way to identify and report bullying in photos:

According to Mosseri, Instagram is now using "machine learning technology" to proactively detect bullying on photos and in their captions in a move they say will protect their youngest users, who experience higher rates of cyberbullying. "This change will help us identify and remove significantly more bullying — and it's a crucial next step since many people who experience or observe bullying don't report it," Mosseri notes.

A Bullying Comment Filter on Live Videos

Earlier this year, Instagram announced that they would be filtering "bullying comments" intended to harass or upset users of the app. The feature was designed to hide comments attacking a person's appearance or character, as well as threats to a user's health or wellbeing. Now, the feature will be added to Live videos, which, according to Mosseri, will "ensure that Live remains a safe and fun place to authentically connect with your friends and interests."

A "Kindness camera":

Along with the new tools to tackle bullying on the app, Instagram has released a "kindness camera effect" which they say will help spread "positivity".


"While stopping bullies is important, we must also do more to celebrate and inspire kindness on Instagram," said Mosseri of the filter, which has been launched by teen dancer, actor and author Maddie Ziegler.  Use the camera in selfie mode and hearts fill the screen - as well as a prompt to tag a friend you'd like to "support". Reverse the camera and you'll see "an overlay of kind comments".

Instagram's new

Instagram's new "kindness" camera. Photo: Instagram

"Bullies are the worst," Ziegler wrote in a post on Tuesday. "I know firsthand." The 16-year-old noted that she is glad Instagram is taking a stand against bullying with the new features and proud of the kindness camera she helped to develop. "Whether you're shouting out your BFF or a person you admire, I hope this new Instagram feature is a force for positivity all over the world," she said.


“Bullies are the worst — and I know firsthand,” says Maddie Ziegler (@maddieziegler). “Being social online should be a positive, fun experience. I’m glad that Instagram is committed to stopping bullies with tools like the bullying comment and photo filters. I’m proud of their commitment, and I’m also proud of the new AR effect I helped work on that spreads kindness. Whether you’re shouting out your BFF or a person you admire, I hope this new Instagram feature is a force for positivity all over the world.” Today, we’re announcing new tools to help combat bullying on Instagram. Check out the link in our bio to learn more, and watch today’s story to see Maddie’s face filter in action.

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Last year, a survey of over 10,000 young people aged between 12 and 20, and conducted by UK anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label, found that 42 per cent of participants had been targeted by bullies on Instagram, compared to 37 per cent on Facebook and 31 per cent on Snapchat.

The new tools come after Instagram faced backlash for warning parents that not allowing their kids to use the app could result in "social marginalisation", adding that "wise use is better than no use" for teenagers.