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This article was published on April 21, 2021

Instagram will now filter out strangers’ DMs that contain abusive language

At long last

Instagram will now filter out strangers’ DMs that contain abusive language
Abhimanyu Ghoshal
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Abhimanyu Ghoshal

Managing Editor

Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and Abhimanyu is TNW's Managing Editor, and is all about personal devices, Asia's tech ecosystem, as well as the intersection of technology and culture. Hit him up on Twitter, or write in: [email protected].

Instagram is finally adding another much-needed layer of protection from harassment to your inbox: from now on, it’ll “automatically filter DM requests containing offensive words, phrases, and emojis, so you never have to see them.”

The idea is that this should prevent strangers sending you hateful messages; pings from people you don’t know are already filtered into a separate inbox, so this takes things one step further.

Instagram will now filter DM requests that contain offensive language
Instagram will now filter DM requests that contain offensive language

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Instagram noted that you’ll have the option to “turn both comment and DM request filters on and off in a new dedicated section of your Privacy Settings called Hidden Words.” This feature will operate with a list of predefined words, as well as those you add to the list.

That’s cool, but it feels like something the company should have rolled out a long time ago — especially if it insists on continuing to allow strangers to message you in the first place.

It’s 2021: I expect filters to be able to use AI to catch even veiled threats that don’t include a single offensive word (like, “Nice guitar you’ve got there, it’d be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”). But that’s a story for another time.

The new filtering function will begin rolling out in the coming weeks to several countries; Instagram says it’ll likely take months to make it available more widely.

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