Social media has become such an important part of many youth’s lives. Whether they’re busy keeping up with their favourite influencers and celebrities or sharing a slice of their life with voyeurs on Instagram, social media isn’t always as fun and filled with heart-shaped emojis.
In fact, hacking and investment scams are becoming a recurring event and cyberbullying is a tale as old as time. In hopes of protecting its users, Instagram wishes to increase awareness of its current initiatives to build a safer online environment for youths.
Firstly, the platform is encouraging users to keep their accounts safe with an authenticator app. Authenticator apps are an easy way for youths to protect their account while making it hard for others to hack them. Users can easily set this up under ‘Two-Factor Authentication’ under the app’s ‘Privacy and Security’ settings.
Users can also moderate and filter out comments that may be inappropriate, offensive or bullying. Found under ‘Privacy and Security’ settings, users click on comment controls and hide offensive comments. Instagram also allows users to manually filter and choose to hide comments that contain specific words, phrases, numbers or emojis. If need be, users can also turn off comments entirely.
As a platform often used to make new friends, Instagram gives users the ability to request direct messages with other users. Whilst a great way to form new connections, Instagram wants to ensure that its users are still protected from unwanted and inappropriate messages from strangers who may mean harm.
Since Instagram can’t control who users are allowed to reach out to, the platform has introduced ‘Hidden Words’. Similar to filtering comments, ‘Hidden Words’ hides message requests and comments that contain offensive content. Likewise, users can create a custom list to hide certain words, phrases or emojis too.
This doesn’t mean the messages are gone forever though. Users will still see the message requests but under the Hidden Requests folder. If one chooses to open the Hidden Requests Folder, the messages will still be obscured unless the user chooses to view them. Once the message is revealed, the user has the option to either report, delete or accept the message request.
To take things further, Instagram also has ‘Limits’. ‘Limits’ temporarily limit unwanted comments and messages. Instagram will recommend groups of accounts that users may want to limit comments and messages from. Limited comments and messages will be hidden unless the users approve them. Despite Instagram’s recommendations, users can still decide who to limit and how long they would like to set the limit for.
Last, but definitely not least, Instagram has the trusty ‘Block’, ‘Report’ and ‘Mute’ buttons that have been very helpful tools for users to manage their interactions and control the content they see on their Instafeed. ‘Mute’ lets users take a break from accounts or content that users don’t want to see, ‘Block’ cuts all interactions from both parties and ‘Report’, well, reports a user or a comment to Instagram for the platform to take matters into their own hands. The option to ‘Restrict’ accounts, i.e. limit interactions from accounts you still want to maintain a connection to without them knowing, is also there for users who don’t want to use the ‘Block’ button instead.
These initiatives are just some ways Instagram wishes to protect its users from harm. At the end of the day, the onus is still on users to consume content mindfully and act kindly towards one another.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, for behind all this makeup, is a geek just like you. To simply put it, superheroes, Star Wars, Harry Potter and all things gore and creepy makes this girly girl swoon.
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