Professional athletes and social media are a pretty volatile combination, not the least of which because it leaves them wide open to a torrent of horrid abuse from total strangers when in-game or on-field results don’t go as planned. Time and time again we see players call this abhorrent behaviour out, and yet nothing really changes on the whole. But now Instagram is attacking the problem directly, by introducing a pair of new privacy features designed to help protect sports stars (and you, of course) from copping the unsolicited opinions of nuffies. And honestly? It’s fairly good gear.
Instagram officials have this afternoon announced that two new privacy features will be implemented on the app to help combat unwanted abuse from random strangers.
The first is essentially a mirror of Facebook Messenger’s “hidden” message requests folder; DMs sent containing abusive, threatening, or offensive language will be automatically filtered to a hidden DM requests folder, based on a curated list of offensive and abusive key words and phrases. Better still, individual users can manually add to that list at any time, and the message text itself will require an extra tap for it to be revealed, giving an added layer of protection for users.
The second tool, and this is the real interesting one, is an extension of the block function that will allow users to not only block an account, but any other subsequent accounts that that person may make in the future.
These tools, Instagram hopes, will aid people combat unwanted abuse and harassment, and was designed sports stars in mind.
Of the new functions, Facebook Australia Managing Director Will Easton stated “Nobody should have to experience abusive content on Instagram. These new features are a positive step towards combating bullying and online abuse. We are grateful for the valuable input from sports leagues, anti-discrimination organisations, and public figures in developing these tools.”
Meanwhile, AFL Inclusion & Social Policy GM Tanya Hosch added “We have been working with Facebook Australia over the past year on the importance of protecting our players from abuse and harassment on Facebook and Instagram. With the announcement today, we feel like they’ve listened and taken a valuable step in the right direction.”
“This is also an valuable update in supporting the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, and any other person who faces discrimination and hate speech, to have a safer and more positive experience online,” Hosch stated.
Both new features are expected to be rolled out across Instagram’s Australian user base over the coming weeks.