Users who do not want to use the existing "limited comment" function that restricts commenting to a selected group of friends will now effectively be able to determine who posts on their supposedly public posts by controlling whose posts can be seen by anybody.
Instagram has announced new features aimed at curbing online bullying on its platform, including a warning to people as they are preparing to post abusive remarks.
The new feature allows users to review comments and decide their visibility before they're displayed.
About 59 percent of USA teens have been bullied or harassed online and most think social media sites are doing a fair or poor job of addressing this issue, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, addressed the new features in an Instagram post of her own.
"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", said Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, in a blog post. The restricted user won't be able to see when the account holder is online, or when they've "seen" a direct message. Anti-bullying group Ditch the Label found in 2017 that 42% of 12-to-20-year-olds surveyed in the United Kingdom who were bullied online experienced it on Instagram.
This particular feature has already started rolling out, and according to Instagram, early results have been positive. Before the comment is posted, Instagram asks: "Are you sure you want to post this?' The user must then reflect on what they've written before deciding whether or not to go ahead with sharing it - the person on the receiving end will only be notified if the original person (AKA bully) decides to confirm their comment".
The next feature is going to be way more useful, though.
The company said young people are often "reluctant to block, unfollow, or report" bullies for fear of escalating the incident.
Therefore, Instagram will soon allow its users to protect their account from unwanted interactions with a feature called Restrict. "Some of these actions also make it hard for a target to keep track of their bully's behavior".