Instagram head Adam Mosseri confirmed the company is testing a new feature called “Limits,” which would give users the ability to temporarily lock down their accounts when they’re being targeted by a flood of harassment. The announcement of the new feature was made today during a video where Mosseri condemned the recent racism on Instagram’s platform following the Euro 2020 final and noted the company was working on improvements to internal and customer-facing tools to help address this problem.
The company had previously commented on and condemned the racist abuse, which had seen England footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho viciously harassed by angry fans making racist comments after the team’s defeat earlier this month.
Mosseri explained that the company was using technology to prioritize user reports, and it mistakenly marked some reports as benign comments instead of referring them to human moderators. One of the possible complications was that many of the harassing words were using emojis. Instagram’s systems may have struggled to understand, given emoji can have different meanings in different contexts. Today, Mosseri again acknowledged Instagram’s mistake and noted it has since fixed the issue. He said Instagram had been proactively sweeping the footballers’ comments but hadn’t anticipated the wave of user reports.
He also pointed out that Instagram receives millions of user reports per day, and even getting 1% of them wrong leads to tens of thousands of problematic posts that remain on the platform in error. Mosseri then mentioned several user-facing tools that could help people deal with harassment more directly on their own accounts to prevent abuse. This includes Instagram’s tools like Block and Restrict. The latter is a tool that allows users to
approve a user’s comments before anyone else sees them or reads someone’s messages without sending read receipts. Another more recently added tool called Hidden Words lets users block specific keywords in comments and direct messages. He said that Instagram was also testing a new tool called Limits, which would allow users to lock down their accounts in a “moment of risk.” This feature could have helped the footballers, as it would have offered simple settings to limit unwanted comments and reactions.