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Ad agencies love Instagram’s new speech restriction features as it makes the platform “brand safe”

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The social network Instagram will flag comments considered offensive by the AI and ask the user who is trying to post if he wants to “undo” it instead. Instagram is also testing another feature, called “restrict”, that allows users to limit interactions with specific accounts, for example by limiting a post’s visibility unless the user approves it.

An ad company executive, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of penalizations from Instagram, explained that his agency and its peers have long waited for Instagram to tackle its “cyberbullying” issue.

“Many of the executives at our media agency have been concerned about bullying on the platform and whether Instagram is doing enough to safeguard the mental health of users. The recent steps taken by Instagram have been noted, but we would welcome Facebook and Instagram to continue to invest in this area,” he explained to Digiday.

Brandon Doyle, the founder of digital agency Wallaroo Media, said he has seen bad behavior all over Instagram, in photos, comments, and direct messages.

“We’ve seen it all. Brands making mistakes regarding not being politically correct and getting attacked for it (sometimes rightfully so, but sometimes it definitely gets out of hand); consumers interpreting something incorrectly and banding together against a brand erroneously; social media managers of brands trying to be too funny or something and doing something dumb in the comments; consumers being mean in the comments or DMs, calling brand models sluts and worse. So yeah, it’s not great, I guess,” he said.

A spokesperson from Instagram explained that the new tools will allow users to easily manage harassment without having to block users. The tool will be restricted to a group of users at first and then will be made available to all users later on in the year.

This isn’t the first time Instagram publicly commits to fight against “cyberbullying”. Co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger themselves were deleting hateful comments when the app first started. A report published by Wired in 2017 explores Systrom’s approaches to clean up the app and make it brand safe. Now that he left the company, his quest has been taken over by Adam Mosseri. According to him, there is a high price for not acting.

“It could hurt our reputation and our brand over time. It could make our partnership relationships more difficult. There are all sorts of ways it could strain us,” he explains. “If you’re not addressing issues on your platform, I have to believe it’s going to come around and have a real cost.”

However, the anonymous agency executive said he is concerned about Mosseri’s decision to take some time off immediately after the announcement. In a tweet, Mosseri said that he will be on a sabbatical this July: “Time away is so important for perspective. With that in mind, anybody have suggestions of people in the real world to spend time with once I’m back on the grid?”

During his absence, the platform will be overseen by the recently appointed COO Justin Osofsky and head of product Vishal Shah, according to an Instagram spokesperson.

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