Instagram launches Restrict feature to help stop bullying

Another way to make scrolling less stressful.

Oscar Gonzalez Former staff reporter
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Oscar Gonzalez
2 min read

Get rid of those nasty comments with Restrict. 

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

A new anti-bullying feature for Instagram launched Wednesday that lets users decide which comments can appear on their posts. This option is an alternative to blocking and came from teenage users of the app. 

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri explained the feature during an appearance on the Today show on Wednesday. App users can approve or deny comments before they're posted instead of blocking the person, because some say blocking actually makes the problem worse. 

"We also started to ask them, 'Why aren't you using the tools available to you today?'" Mosseri said Wednesday. "'Why not block someone who's bullying you?' And we heard very consistently, particularly from teenagers, often that can escalate the situation."  

You can restrict users by swiping left on one of their comments, or you can do it directly from their profile page or in the Privacy section in Settings. Once you restrict people, they're the only ones who can see their comments, and they're not aware others can't see them. To view one of their subsequent remarks, you can tap See Comment; then you can decide whether to delete it, ignore it or approve it so everyone can see it.

Comments from restricted accounts won't appear in your notifications, and direct messages are moved to the Message Request section. You can view those without the sender knowing you've done so. You can also "unrestrict" someone you've blackballed.

The release of Restrict, which the company has been testing for several months, follows another anti-bullying feature rolled out in July. That feature uses AI to let people know they're about to post a hurtful comment and to ask if they're sure they really want to post it. 

Mosseri's next move to make Instagram a more relaxing experience could be the removal of "likes." He said the big idea is to make the app feel "less pressurized" so people can spend less time worrying about likes and more time connecting with people or what inspires them. 

During the Today interview, Mosseri also said he agrees with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that it doesn't make sense to break up Facebook, which owns Instagram. In audio leaked Tuesday from an internal Facebook meeting, Zuckerberg said he is prepared for a legal battle if Sen. Elizabeth Warren becomes president and attempts to break up massive tech companies like Facebook. 

Originally published Oct. 2, 7:20 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:56 a.m.: Adds details on feature.