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August 9, 2016

The start of the end for internet trolling?

Instagram is rolling out a new feature to target internet trolls, with ‘power users’ such as Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian having the first use of the technology to combat high volumes of negative and abusive comments. The Facebook-owned photo sharing app has come under fire in the past for its lack of control over what comments are displayed alongside an uploaded photograph, with some trolls able to post spam and often vicious comments to a wide audience

Now, celebrities have been given the first glimpse of a new comment filtering tool1 which allows users to add custom keywords to a removal tool which removes all mentions of such words in people’s comments on their posts, as revealed by American model Christine Tiegen.

An Instagram spokesperson told NBC News2: “We’re always looking for ways to help people have a positive experience with comments on Instagram.”

“We’re currently focused on providing tools to improve accounts with the most high-volume comment threads, and we will use our learnings to continue to improve the comment experience on Instagram.”

Instagram recently added analytics for businesses to monitor traffic in its most recent brand update, and has also now added Snapchat-style stories feature 3 to its 300million plus users.

Ending trolling

Trolls constantly attract newspaper headlines and affect the reputation of companies and individuals. Katie Price’s son, Harvey, is a good example of a public figure who some see as an acceptable butt of their jokes 4 due to both his disability and the controversial nature of his mother.

Instagram puts a stop to online trollingThe fight against online trolls won’t be an easy battle and Digby Lewis, head of platforms and distribution at UK business solutions company Iris, says how social media is becoming more visual.  Algorithms need to have the ability to moderate not only against words, but also images to prevent the racist posts which were sent to Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones5.

There have been calls for innovative technology, such as the facial recognition used by Snapchat 6, to be used to expose social media trolls. “You need that kind of complex technology to understand Facebook Live or Periscope, and to understand that moderation may not just be required for words and audio but visual as well,” says Lewis.

Instagram currently receives more than one million reports of abuse every week, which are dealt with by the same community safety team Facebook uses to review flagged posts. But the backlog is often too large for the team to deal with and only the most highly concerning comments are removed. Instagram is proactively trying to change this by investing in new software and adding more features for users.

Protecting yourself online

There’s a substantial difference between accepting negative commentary on forums and social media and dealing with corporate trolling or threatening online behaviour. It’s important that every company has processes in place to deal with negativity, and also be aware which comments to ignore and which to respond to.

In order to avoid and limit the reputational and financial damage of negative online content, companies need to ensure that they’re prepared to identify and combat the damaging content as quickly as possible and that the right people take the right steps to challenge it.

It has widely become acceptable that some people deserve the hatred and negative comments in today’s culture. This is something which social media sites such as Instagram clearly need to get a grip of in order to sustain users and maintain a community feel on the social media platform. Features such as this new Instagram filter signify the start of what will hopefully be the end to online trolling.

Footnotes

1 http://bit.ly/2cVEwPk

2 http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/social-media/instagram-s-new-feature-takes-internet-trolls-n621051

3 http://bit.ly/2dU39So

4 http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/katie-price-disabled-son-harvey-7988911

5 http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/ghostbusters-leslie-jones-leaves-twitter-8447062

6 http://petapixel.com/2016/06/30/snapchats-powerful-facial-recognition-technology-works/

 

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