WATCH: Instagram to use AI tech to reign in nasty comments on their platform in a bid to combat online harassment among its teen users

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The new online safety strategy was motivated by teen users who say they're "reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they interact with their bully in real life.
The new online safety strategy was motivated by teen users who say they're "reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they interact with their bully in real life.

In 2018, a global survey revealed that South Africa had the highest prevalence of cyberbullying. The study included data from 28 countries and the stats showed that 54% of South African moms and dads said they knew of a child in their social circles who had been a target of cyberbullying, and social media was found to be the main source of harassment. 

The study also showed that globally, 1 in 6 parents say their child has been a victim of online harassment. 


Also see: Parent's guide: How to identify and combat cyberbullying

Has your child been a victim of cyberbullying? Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.


In a bid to address this reality, Instagram has launched a new feature called Restrict, which will allow users to block another user without them knowing it. Comments posted by the 'restricted' person will only visible to themselves, and direct messages will appear as unread (even if it has been read). Once blocked, the restricted person will also not be notified when someone is active on their Instagram account. 

Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri announced these new features via the platform's blog this past Monday, explaining that the new online safety strategy was motivated by teen users who say they're "reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation, especially if they interact with their bully in real life. Some of these actions also make it difficult for a target to keep track of their bully’s behaviour." 

Restrict will also give potential cyberbullies a chance to "reflect and undo" before posting a nasty comment, doing this via AI tech which picks up on insulting language. 

"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," wrote Adam, noting that the new feature is  the first "two steps on a longer path." 

Watch the video above to see the new features in action. 

Chat back:

Has your child been a victim of cyberbullying? Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.


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