Instagram’s Restrict tool, designed to combat bullying on the site by hiding abusive content, is to be rolled out globally, the social media platform has said.
The tool allows users to “quietly protect” themselves from online bullying by hiding comments from view and blocking bullying accounts from seeing when a user is online.
Instagram began testing the tool earlier this year as a way of tackling what it said was a complex issue – where many users do not want to report or block those bullying them for fear of further abuse.
Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said the aim of the Restrict tool was to enable users to keep an eye on what a bully is doing online while also silently blocking out their attempts to contact them.
“We wanted to create a feature that allows people to control their Instagram experience, without notifying someone who may be targeting them,” he said.
“Once you Restrict someone, comments on your posts from that person will only be visible to that person. You can choose to make a restricted person’s comments visible to others by approving their comments. Restricted people won’t be able to see when you’re active on Instagram or when you’ve read their direct messages.”
Restrict can be accessed by swiping left on a comment, through the Privacy section of the Settings menu or directly from the profile of the account a user wishes to restrict.
Instagram has been among the social media platforms repeatedly criticised for failing to act quickly enough in removing abusive and other potentially dangerous content from the platform.
Politicians and campaigners around the world have called for greater regulation to be introduced to enable better policing of social media and hold sites to account for not protecting their users.
When first discussing Restrict earlier this year, Mr Mosseri said: “Our mission is to connect you with the people and things you love, which only works if people feel comfortable expressing themselves on Instagram.
“We know bullying is a challenge many face, particularly young people. We are committed to leading the industry in the fight against online bullying, and we are rethinking the whole experience of Instagram to meet that commitment.
“We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves.”