While Instagram can be fun for connecting with friends and scouting potential hookups, not every comment or DM slide is friendly. Now the social media platform has introduced an update aimed at curbing spikes in abusive messages, so you can get back to posting thirst traps in peace.
Announced in a blog post on Wednesday, Instagram’s new feature Limits allows users to automatically hide both DMs and comments from users who don’t follow them — or who have only just started following them within the past week. This means users can keep lines of communication open to their usual audience, but still protect themselves from temporary influxes of attackers.
“Our research shows that a lot of negativity towards public figures comes from people who don’t actually follow them, or who have only recently followed them, and who simply pile on in the moment,” Instagram wrote, particularly noting the spike in racist abuse English footballers experienced online after July’s Euro 2020 final. “Limits allows you to hear from your long-standing followers, while limiting contact from people who might only be coming to your account to target you.”
Limits follows Instagram’s launch of Hidden Words in April, a feature that lets users filter abusive DMs and comments using specific words or emoji. The company also rolled out the option to both block someone’s account and any new accounts they could potentially make.
Instagram states that Limits will be available globally to all users, so you don’t have to be a famous figure to use it. Just head to your profile page, go to your privacy settings, then tap “Limits” and turn it on. Non-followers and new followers can be limited separately, so you can disallow communications from one of these groups separately from the other. Limits will also remain in place until you decide to turn them off, with Instagram setting you a reminder to do so.
Yes, you could also go into Instagram’s Comments and Messages settings to only allow either from followers — and you can also use the “Restrict” option to screen individual accounts without their knowledge. But Limits gives you a bit more control in terms of restricting new followers as well, and makes it a couple of quick toggles instead of a several setting checklist.
“The new features we’re launching today are the next step in our ongoing work to combat racism and hate speech across our platform,” Mia Garlick, head of policy for Facebook Australia, said in a statement. “We’re committed to continuing this work with experts, sports leagues, governments and safety partners to root out hate both online and offline, but we hope these new features will better protect everyone in our community from seeing abusive content in the first place.”
This isn’t to say all the abusive comments will just disappear into the ether, though. A screenshot provided by Instagram states that comments and messages from accounts in the limited categories “will be hidden unless you approve them,” indicating users will still have some way of viewing them — still not great for one’s mental health.
Mashable’s tests indicated Limits hasn’t quite reached every account just yet, but we expect it will roll out everywhere soon. And considering how common targeted harassment has become on social media, Instagram’s new feature can’t come quickly enough.