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Instagram to disable account sending abusive, hate speech DMs

Anshika Awasthi     February 16, 2021

The popular photo-sharing app Instagram is looking for stricter ways to tackle hate speech, abuse and bullying that users receive in their direct messages (DMs).

The social media platform will soon start disabling accounts that send abusive and hateful messages via DMs.

"Our rules against hate speech don't tolerate attacks on people based on their protected characteristics, including race or religion," said Instagram in its official statement.

These measures are introduced in the backdrop of a racist attack on footballers in the UK, including Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Lauren James, and Axel Tuanzebe from Manchester United.

"We've seen it most recently with racist online abuse targeted at footballers in the UK. We don't want this behaviour on Instagram, "said Instagram.

Stricter penalties

From now on, anyone who breaks the Instagram DMs rule will have their account disabled. As of now, an user found guilty of sending abusive messages is restricted from sending more messages for a set period of time.

"When someone sends DMs that break our rules, we prohibit that person from sending any more messages for a set period of time", says Instagram.

Also, if someone continues to send hateful messages, Instagram will disable their account.

"If someone continues to send violating messages, we'll disable their account. We'll also disable new accounts created to get around our messaging restrictions and will continue to disable accounts we find that are created purely to send abusive messages," added Instagram.

Business and creator accounts can switch off DMs anytime

Instagram currently allows its business/ creator accounts to switch off DMs from people they don't follow. This helps avoid abusive/ unwanted messages as these accounts receive the most, Instagram said.

Now Instagram is planning to expand this feature to personal accounts too and it will soon be available to all the users.

'DMs is more challenging'

Instagram users have so far used the 'comment filter' feature to prevent themselves from offensive comments that use words, phrases, or emojis they don't want to see.

"Last year we announced a new feature to manage multiple unwanted comments in one go - whether that's bulk deleting them, or bulk blocking the accounts that posted them," Instagram said.

It helped in a meaningful decrease in offensive comments, after Instagram started using AI to warn people when they're about to post something that might be hurtful.

"Because DMs are for private conversations, we don't use technology to proactively detect content like hate speech or bullying the same way we do in other places," added Instagram.

Instagram is currently working on this feature and hoping to launch it in the coming months.

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