"Instagram" allows its users to filter direct messages from offensive phrases

Facebook's Instagram network began on Wednesday providing a technology that allows its users to filter messages received on the platform from offensive phrases, in a new step for the social platform that seeks to combat online harassment.

The famous photo-sharing application said in a statement that "direct messages are private conversations, and it is not possible to pre-verify whether they include expressions of hate speech or harassment" as the network does for other types of conversations.

Users in seven countries (Britain, France, Ireland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) can activate an option that allows automatic blocking of "direct message requests" (chat invitations) that contain offensive words, phrases, or emojis.

"In these countries, some public figures, such as football players, are exposed to offensive phrases in direct messages," Clotilde Brend, the public policy officer at Instagram, told AFP.

It noted that "the bulk of hate speech stems from these direct message requests." "We will give each user the ability to inform or not inform us of these messages," she added, which will still be available in a separate mailbox.

Instagram, which has more than a billion users for years, has been trying to combat harassment, hate speech and disinformation spreading on social networks.

In 2019, the network launched an artificial intelligence-based technology that allows proactive warning to people who want to post offensive messages, and recently announced that it will use machine learning to guess the actual age of users.

In March, the social network confirmed that it intends to create a version of its service for young adolescents, prompting protests from specialists in the field of child rights.


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