Instagram will now let you filter out abusive messages that contain offensive words, phrases, or emoji so you don’t have to deal with them at all.
The new update focuses on the abuse people face in their Direct Message request inbox from people they don’t follow.
In a blog post announcing the change, Instagram noted that because DMs are private conversations, identifying hate speech and bullying in these messages involves a different process to weeding it out in public comments and captions on the app.
Instagram noted that DM requests are where people are more likely to receive online abuse, away from the public eye. “This tool focuses on DM requests, because this is where people usually receive abusive messages — unlike your regular DM inbox, where you receive messages from friends,” the post explains.
“We understand the impact that abusive content — whether it’s racist, sexist, homophobic, or any other kind of abuse — can have on people,” it adds. “Nobody should have to experience that on Instagram.”
The feature will work in a similar way to the comment filters already offered by Instagram, which let you hide abusive comments as well as phrases and words you don’t want people to use in comments on your posts.
To turn on the DM request filters, you can go to a new section of your privacy settings called Hidden Words.
The feature can be personalised — you can create a custom list of words, phrases, or emoji that you want to filter out of DM requests. Those DM requests will then be filtered into a separate hidden requests folder. If you choose to access that folder, the abusive text will be covered so you don’t have to see it, but you can tap to uncover it, should you wish to. You can then choose to accept the message request, delete it, or report it.
There’s also another feature that could prove useful in tackling abuse. Instagram says it will be making it more difficult for someone you’ve blocked to contact you again through a new account. You’ll now have the option when you block someone to both block their account and block any new accounts they might make.
Instagram says it will begin rolling out these features in “several countries in the coming weeks” and will look to expand globally in the next few months.