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Instagram unveils new tools to curb offensive and racist comments

Instagram announced, on Wednesday, new measures to limit offensive and racist content on the social network dedicated to sharing photos and videos, following a torrent of abusive comments against football players in Britain after the European Cup (Euro 2020) final recently.
Facebook’s platform said it would start giving “stronger warnings” when people post potentially abusive comments, as well as using a new feature that allows users to filter out abusive messages by hiding any comments containing certain words.

Instagram will also allow users to limit comments and message requests during periods of “maximum levels of interest”.
This step comes after social media platforms faced a few weeks ago difficulty in addressing racist and offensive comments against players in the England football team, after losing to Italy in the European Cup 2020 final that was held last month after it was postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Racism and hate messages on social networks drew condemnation from British political leaders and the public, and increased pressure on major US social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said the new measures are aimed at curbing the spread of racist, sexist or hate-hate content against anyone.

“Our research shows that a lot of negativity toward public figures comes from people who don’t actually follow them, or who just started following them and are waiting for the opportunity to direct their attacks,” Mosseri said in a blog post.

“We saw this after the last Euro 2020+ final, which led to a significant and unacceptable rise in racist abuse towards players,” he added.

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Mosseri noted that users “tell us they don’t want to turn off comments and messaging completely; they still want to take feedback from their community and build those relationships,” and that the new policy “allows listening to old followers, while restricting communication from people who might come to your account only to target you.”

The warnings already in place reduce the frequency of offensive comments by up to 50 percent, Mosseri said.

“We originally post a warning when someone tries to post a potentially offensive comment,” he wrote, and “if they try to post potentially abusive comments too many times, we show a stronger warning… Now, instead of waiting for the second or third comment, we’ll show that stronger message in First time”.