You might have already heard, but Instagram has just rolled out its new ‘Restrict’ feature in the US to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month. Designed to restrict the amount of interaction a user has with bullies, it allows someone to effectively mute another account’s comments and messages.
This means that if you restrict someone and they comment on your post, no one will be able to see it. However, you can still choose to read the comment by tapping ‘See Comment’. The same can be said for direct messages. They will sit in the ‘Message Requests’ folder, with a user still being able to read them if they want to.
The catch is, a restricted user will not be aware that they have been restricted, and they will still be able to see comments posted on other accounts’ pictures regardless. This privacy is designed to work in a way that protects someone’s account from bullying and hurtful comments, without aggravating the situation further by notifying someone that they have been blocked.
Cyberbullying is a very real issue, one which unfortunately seems to come hand-in-hand with social media platforms like Instagram. According to a study last year by several of the top UK universities, around one-third of young people claim to have been victims of cyberbullying.
What’s more, the research found that cyberbullying more than doubled the risk of self-harm or suicidal behaviour in under 25s.
Instagram is not at fault for the amount of cyberbullying that takes place on the platform, but it is something that they should be serious about combatting. The introduction of the new ‘Restrict’ feature is undoubtedly a good thing, as it allows vulnerable users to protect themselves without drawing the attention of a bully.
However, the quiet nature of the ‘Restrict’ feature doesn’t promote the standpoint that bullying someone online is not okay. It allows bullies to continue to post comments and send messages without being restricted themselves, which doesn’t seem to address the issue head-on.
Rather than sweeping nasty comments and messages under the rug, it would be good to see a feature that has negative consequences for the bullies themselves. Although, it’s certainly a step in the right direction to limit the damage caused by people being subjected to hateful messages online.
What do you think about the new ‘Restrict’ feature? Let us know! Tweet us @honcho_search or get in touch on Instagram or LinkedIn to share your thoughts. Like keeping up with the latest news and industry updates? Sign up to our newsletter!