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Instagram announces range of new features aimed at addressing outpourings of hate on its platform

Instagram announces range of new features aimed at addressing outpourings of hate on its platform
Instagram is testing new features aimed at helping people deal with racism, hate and harassment on its platform.

Instagram is testing new features aimed at helping people deal with racism, hate and harassment on its platform.

The biggest among them is one called “Limits”, which would allow users to lock down their accounts if they are being hit by harassment.

It is just one of a range of changes that the app is making as it attempts to respond to criticism that it failed to protect Euro 2020 footballers when they were racially abused on the platform.

In the wake of the missed penalties by Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho in the tournaments’ final, they were hit by a wave of abuse on their personal Instagrams, much of it racist in nature.

Some of those comments remained available for much longer than expected, despite a commitment from Instagram that it was proactively watching those players’ accounts. Instagram said that it had mistakenly flagged some comments as benign even though they were in fact in contravention of its policies.

The announcement came as the app’s chief executive, Adam Mosseri, admitted that it had made “mistakes” in the way it had responded to hate speech and racism.

“Racism is not acceptable and has no place on Instagram,” he wrote on Twitter.

“It is important to us that everyone feels safe and comfortable on our platform. We’re getting better at identifying and removing hate speech and racism but we do make mistakes and we need to do more.”

Mr Mosseri said he had been gone “on vacation” for a “few weeks”, and so had missed the wave of racism and criticism that had swept the platform.

In a video posted to Twitter, he pointed to existing features on the sites such as its tools for blocking other people or the “Restrict” feature. The latter means that users can choose to approve user comments before they are posted publicly.

Mr Mosseri said that upcoming features, such as Limits, would not only be useful for large accounts but also for smaller ones too. He noted that the tool could help people who “are going through a breakup or just switched schools”, for instance.

“Whatever it is, we know that people sometimes are in temporary moments of real risk of pain, and we want to give them tools to protect themselves in those situations,” he said.