As part of its effort to crack down on online bullying and harassment, Instagram is rolling out new tools Tuesday, including a feature that lets users delete multiple negative comments at once.
The release of the tools shows that Instagram is ramping up its fight against online bullying by giving users more control over how they use the site. Still, bullying and harassment continue to be a big problem on social networks, especially for teens.
For the first time, Facebook-owned Instagram also shared that from October to March it took action against 3 million pieces of content for bullying and harassment. Instagram said it found at least 35% of this content before it was reported by a user.
Instagram also outlined three new tools meant to help combat bullying and harassment.
One feature gives users the ability to delete multiple negative comments or block and restrict multiple accounts at once. To access the feature on an iPhone, you tap on a comment, click on the three gray dots in the top right corner and select Manage Comments. You can delete up to 25 comments at once. To block or restrict multiple accounts, you tap on More Options. On Android, you press and hold on a comment, tap the dotted icon and select Block or Restrict to access the feature.
Instagram said it's also testing a feature that lets users pin positive comments to the top of their comment thread. The third tool lets users choose who's able to tag or mention them in a comment, caption or story: everyone, no one, or only people the users follow. Stories let users post photos and videos that vanish in 24 hours.
Instagram has come under fire for not doing enough to combat online bullying. About 59 percent of US teens have been bullied or harassed online, and most think social media sites are doing a fair or poor job of addressing this issue, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center. Anti-bullying group Ditch the Label found in 2017 that 42% of 12- to 20-year-olds surveyed in the UK who were bullied online experienced the problem on Instagram.
Outside of bullying, images of suicide and self-harm have been another woe facing Instagram. In 2017, British teenager Molly Russell took her life, and her family partly blamed the social network for her death. Russell had used Instagram to engage with and post content about depression and suicide.
In the first quarter, Instagram said, the site took action on 1.3 million pieces of content about suicide or self-injury, up from more than 896,800 pieces of content in the fourth quarter of 2019. Instagram found nearly 90% of this content in the first quarter before users reported it to the social network, it said.