Instagram has announced that it will be implementing stricter rules around what its users are allowed to say in private Direct Messages (DMs) and permanently banning users that post “hate speech” in their DMs.
Previously, Instagram would temporarily block users from sending DMs if they violated the rules but now they’ll lose their account if they’re deemed to have violated Instagram’s rules.
Instagram also revealed that it’s working with UK law enforcement authorities on hate speech and providing information in response to “valid legal requests.”
Instagram wrote that it’s making these changes and working with law enforcement because some users have been sending racist online abuse to UK footballers via its DM function.
But the scope of what constitutes hate speech on Instagram and its parent company Facebook extends far beyond racist speech with posts showing support for former First Lady Melania Trump and statements that deny that someone’s “gender identity” exists previously being flagged for hate speech by the tech giant.
Facebook also enforces its hate speech rules selectively. It carves out exceptions for certain posts and gives lesser punishment for hate speech against white people than against minorities.
In addition to introducing these stricter hate speech rules, Instagram stated that it’s hoping to launch a new feature in the coming months which will help with the issue “that seeing abusive DMs in the first place takes a toll.”
Instagram’s crackdown on hate speech in private DMs is part of a wider push to censor and regulate the contents of private messages.
Pressure groups recently sued Apple and Google for not banning the popular messaging app Telegram from their app stores. The mainstream media has also set its sights on the private messaging app Signal and suggested that it’s a “misinformation hotspot.”