Cyberbullying is one of those wicked problems which have baffled legislators, parents and people who know nothing about the internet but have opinions they like to express regardless.
How can we restrict bullying while not accidentally blocking legitimate speech? How can an algorithm tell a joke from a threat? Is it better just to burn down the internet and return to the sea? No-one seems to know, beyond that Something Simply Must Be Done.
And now Instagram – aka The Legacy Social Media Platform Young People Actually Still Use – are taking active steps to make things less fraught in a move which deserves widespread and sustained applause: one using A1, and one in the hands of users.
First up, there will shortly be a new option: restrict.
It’s a softer alternative for young people who are worried that blocking, unfriending or reporting bullies is a great way to make things escalate IRL.
Messages from restricted people will be moved to Message Requests, meaning that people can more easily ignore them, and they don’t see whether you have read their message or interacted with their post, or be alerted when you’re on the platform. Also, you’ll be able to delete comments and messages without having to read them.
And that’s great, but there’s also the A1 powered Comment Warning, which gives people a chance to reflect on whether the thing they’re about to post is actually worth posting – and hopefully you haven’t attempted a flamewar yet because it’s already been rolled out.
These are small changes with potentially huge positive effects, and seems like something Facebook (who own Insta) should be adding to their platform asap.
Twitter, obviously, doesn’t need it since it’s already a textbook example of genteel good manners.