Instagram’s new anti-abuse features protect accounts with trending posts

As with all social media sites, Instagram is rife with abusive trolls. It’s an especially noticeable problem when a post is trending or goes viral. As such, owner Facebook is rolling out new features to better protect users from racist, sexist, homophobic, and other types of harmful content.

The first of Instagram’s new tools is Limits. It’s designed to protect users, particularly creators, influencers, and public figures, who experience a sudden spike in comments and DMs from people they don’t know after a post gains a lot of attention. While most of this can be positive, it can attract unwanted elements.

With Limits, people can hide both comments and DM requests from users who either don’t follow them or only just started following them. “Creators also tell us they don’t want to switch off comments and messages completely; they still want to hear from their community and build those relationships,” said Instagram head Adam Mosseri. “Limits allows you to hear from your long-standing followers, while limiting contact from people who might only be coming to your account to target you.”

Limits can be activated in the privacy settings. Instagram is also working on a way to identify a spike in comments and DMs using machine learning so it can prompt users to enable the tool. Twitter is also working on a similar feature.

Elsewhere, Instagram is expanding its Hidden Words feature to more locations. It allows users to automatically filter offensive words, phrases, and emojis into a Hidden Folder. It also filters DM requests that are likely to be spam or low-quality.

Finally, Instagram is changing the way it shows warnings to users that post potentially offensive comments. Rather than showing a stronger warning for a second or third offense, as is currently the case, it will now show the more severe message the first time someone posts something harmful.