Instagram is making some changes in their quest to become a safer place on the internet… before regulators force them to address the issue.

  1. They are requiring users to provide their birth date, in the hopes of making the platform safer for younger users, Instagram said in a statement. The birth dates will be used to recommend different privacy settings and features. Birthdays will not be visible to the public.
  2. They are attempting to close a HUGE security gap to help users control who can send them direct messages on Instagram. Instead of creepy, random messages from strangers, users can allow only people they follow to message and add them to group threads. People who enable this setting will no longer receive messages, group message requests or story replies from anyone they have not chosen to follow.
  3. They are adding more filters to remove offensive or divisive comments or pictures
  4. They are testing the removal of the “likes” tally. (You can still see who likes a post, just not the total number.) The theory is that kids especially use the “likes” tally to infer meaning or worth. By removing the tally, IG hopes to discourage teens from equating “likes” with self-worth.

More on the “likes” Tally

Reports from international Instagram users who are already in the test group to remove “likes” are positive. A quote from Wired magazine says “social media researchers have argued that when users tailor their content to whatever garners the most engagement (or outrage), healthy, happy conversations are almost impossible”. You can read the full article here.

This is the latest in a series of attempts to soften the tone of social media posts and some are specifically designed to protect young users. Earlier this year, IG added AI (artificial intelligence) that invites a user to rethink negative comments before they are published. It asks “Are you sure you want to post this?” before the comment is shared.

What do you think?

Is IG doing enough to protect teens from inappropriate content, online bullying and hate speech? What are your thoughts?


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