Instagram is introducing an enhanced comment filter today meant to wipe out nasty remarks using AI. The app first began offering a comment filter last September, but it was a very simple approach: Instagram would only remove comments that contained words and phrases it had specifically identified as offensive. Users could also add their own custom banned phrases.
For Instagram, it’s a way to try to make the product safer and friendlier, and therefore, encourage people to spend more time with the app, whether that’s sharing, viewing, or commenting. That focus includes average users and celebrities.
Instagram users can access the feature in the Setting menu on their profile. Tap comments and press the tab for “Hide Offensive Comments.” It uses machine learning to identify comments that seem offensive, giving the system some ability to take into account the reply’s context, potentially catching more bad comments and cutting down on false positives at the same time. Wired has a big story on how the system was made, and it mentions that when a comment gets flagged, it’ll be blocked for everyone — except the person who wrote it, so they won’t know their remark didn’t get through.
One other notable change here: Instagram is turning the offensive comment filter on by default, whereas the earlier filter had to be enabled. You’ll still be given the option to turn it off from inside the app’s settings, and Instagram still includes the ability to block custom words and phrases.
It’s not perfect, CEO Kevin Systrom admitted and Wired demonstrated in their article, running sentences by the algorithm with some weird results.
“We’re not here to curb free speech,” Systrom told Wired. “We’re not here to curb fun conversations between friends. But we are here to make sure we’re attacking the problem of bad comments on Instagram.”