While we have benefitted a lot from social media of course, unfortunately, it’s also a place where a lot of horrible people flaunt all kinds of hate speech against people that they disagree with or do not like. Instagram is a platform that is not as toxic as Twitter or its parent company Facebook, but there are still a lot of abusive behavior there. In light of recent racist online behavior from some “fans” targeted at footballers in the U.K, Instagram is toughening its stance on hate messages sent through Direct Messages.
Policing behavior on DMs isn’t as easy as addressing these on the comments on posts since the former is private conversation of course. But Instagram is creating some measures to protect their users from hate speech. It is defined as attacking people based on their protected characteristics, which includes a person’s race or religion. They have implemented a strict stance on their rules on banning explicit and implicit forms of hate speech.
When Instagram is notified that an account is breaking rules on DMs through reports from other users, the account will be prohibited from sending messages during a specified time period. But if they continue to send the same kind of messages, the account will be disabled. New accounts that are found to be trying to get around the restrictions imposed on the original account will also be disabled.
The amount of racist abuse that footballers in the U.K have been increasing lately and so Instagram says they will be cooperating with UK law enforcement authorities in responding to valid legal requests on some of these cases. Football teams as well as the England Football Association (Prince William is the president) have issued various statements against racist abuse and other forms of hate speech and that it has no place in the sport and in real life.
Instagram says they will be working with companies, football associations, NGOs, governments, parents and educators to fight hate and racism on the platform. At the same time, they are also aware that “these problems are bigger than us”.