Instagram Takes Huge Step to Filter Bullies, Become a Kinder Social Hub

You’re a jerk.
You’re a fat pig.
You’re disgusting. 

It’s hard to imagine seeing these words written about anyone, but it happens every minute online. But hopefully, Instagram users will be noticing a kinder vibe thanks to the platform’s decision to automatically delete hateful, bullying comments.

Instagram, the third most popular social network with 700 million users, announced its filtering move shortly after one  UK study found that more youths experienced depression and cyberbullying on Instagram than any other platform.
A filtering win for families
This latest move is a huge win for families and specifically, teens, who now consider the photo-driven Instagram their favorite platform behind Snapchat.
During the CBSN: On Assignment show this week that broke the story, Wired magazine editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson asked Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, “What if this fails? What if people actually get turned off by Instagram, and they say ‘Instagram is becoming like Disneyland, I don’t want to be there’ . . . and they share less?”

To which Systrom replied, “I’ve had numerous product ideas at Instagram that were total failures, and that’s okay. Maybe trying sends a signal to other companies that this is a priority and starts a national and international conversation. I think that will be the success.”
Can we please give Systrom an award for using his platform’s incredible influence and power for good? It will be interesting to see in the months ahead how other platforms respond to Instagram’s kindness initiative.
Even with Instagram leading the charge for a kinder Internet, we know the most efficient behavior filters begin at home. Here are a few reminders to help kids can steer clear of bullies online.
5 Ways to Help Kids Avoid Bullies 
  1. Make profiles and photos private. By refusing to use privacy settings (and some kids do refuse), a child’s profile is open everyone, which increases the chances of being bullied or personal photos being downloaded and manipulated. We recommend that parents require kids under 18 to make all social profiles private. Private accounts limit online circles to known friends and reduce the possibility of cyberbullying.
  2. Avoid anonymous apps. Apps that allow anonymous accounts can be invitations to heartache. Apps like Ask.fm, that Tumblr, YikYak, and a handful of other apps should be limited. Reports have linked several of these apps to severe and even tragic cyberbullying cases.
  3. Tell someone. If your child does get bullied, encourage him or her to tell someone; if not you then a trusted teacher or family friend. Never tell a child to ignore the bullying or bully in return. Social media has changed the impact and consequences of bullying and in turn, how we need to respond to it.
  4. Look for signs of bullying. Being the target of a cyberbully creates fear, humiliation, and can lead to isolation, so your child will rarely be the first to speak up about it. So, look out for the signs your child is being bullied such as falling grades, loss of appetite, refusing to go to school, or ongoing sadness or moodiness. Be aware and willing to press in to help your child.
  5. Save any evidence, report abuse. Print copies of messages, texts, and photos used to threaten or intimidate. Take screen shots of posts or comments on social networks. Report abusive accounts, comments, and ongoing conflict to the social network in the Help section. If the cyberbullying includes threats, intimidation, or sexual extortion of any kind report it to the police immediately.

We certainly applaud Instagram for being the first giant social platform to put such strong anti-bullying measures in place, but we also have the everyday parenting work to do in our own homes. The best anti-bullying plan? Be available for your kids, listen a lot, communicate often, and let them know without a doubt that you have their backs.

ToniTwitterHS

 

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @IntelSec_Family. (Disclosures).

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