There are several ways Instagram fights online bullying: it either uses AI to recognize it, mercilessly bans bullies forever, or lets you be in control. You can block people (and all their accounts) on your own, choose “trigger words” that just can’t land in your comment section, delete nasty comments in bulk, or shadowban bullies.
But the latest Instagram feature is quite an unordinary way of treating jerks who are about to hurl insults at you. The new “kindness reminders” will not (shadow)ban anyone, but rather just kindly ask them to please, please be nice before sending that hurtful message.
In essence, when someone tries to send you a message filled with insults and potentially hurtful phrases, Instagram will send them a nudge to think before they act. These reminders are now also there when someone tries to interact with creators via direct messaging. “This nudge helps people remember that there’s a real person on the other side of their DM request,” Instagram says, “and encourages more respectful outreach to people they may not know.” I highly doubt gentle nudges can make a hateful keyboard warrior come to their senses, but that’s just my two cents. Instagram doesn’t seem to agree with me, though.
“We’ve seen that nudges can reduce the amount of hurtful remarks on Instagram, which is why we’re introducing more of them,” Instagram writes in the announcement. “Now, a new notification will encourage people to pause and consider how they want to respond before replying to a comment that our systems tell us could be offensive.” Not all languages have been covered, but you’ll get them if your app is set to English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Chinese, or Arabic. For us speaking, for example, Serbian and Croatian, we still get all those nasty messages from haters and trolls. But I believe we’d get them with “kindness reminders” too, anyway.
These “kindness reminders” already exist for comments and the feature has been around since 2019. Hidden Words filtering for comments has also been an option for a while. But now, Instagram has expanded both of these to Direct Messages, or DMs, as well. These, and the other new features, should become available to everyone “over the coming weeks,” according to Instagram.