Instagram Is Changing How Blocking Works With Its New Restrict Feature

Photographed by Franey Miller.
Update: Restrict, Instagram's newest feature meant to combat online bullying on the platform, is officially live. It lets users restrict certain accounts so that the comments made by these accounts are only visible the commenters — and not the recipients of the comments or other users, unless approved by the recipient first. Restricted users also can't see when you're online or if you've read their DMs, the latter of which will automatically becomes Message Requests instead of going to the recipient's inbox. So the restricted account won't know it has been restricted. To enable the tool, you can swipe left on a comment, go to the profile of the account you would like to restrict, or opt in via the Privacy tab in Settings.
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Following April's F8 keynote, where Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced that there would be forthcoming anti-bullying features on the app, Instagram is majorly prioritizing online safety — particularly for teens, who Mosseri said in his announcement are "less likely to report online bullying even when they are the ones who experience it the most."
In addition to Restrict, there's also a new AI-powered feature that notifies users that their comment might be offensive before it's posted, with the prompt: "Are you sure you want to post this?" The user can then undo the comment before the recipient sees it.
"From early tests of this feature, we have found that it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect," said Mosseri.
Instagram is also revamping its blocking options. While you can always block, report, or mute an account that you don't wish to interact with, for some these options aren't enough. Mosseri said that Instagram received feedback from young users that "they’re reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they interact with their bully in real life."
Instagram has had an offensive-comment filter in place since 2017, and last year announced a bullying filter targeting comments that attack someone's appearance or character, or that threaten their well-being. At April's keynote, Mosseri also floated the idea of hiding like and follower counts to make the environment even less pressurized for its users. And this month, Instagram will be sharing stories from young people about online bullying via its #Advocates series as well as a four-episode series directed by Jonah Hill called Unfiltered on IGTV.
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