Instagram is now giving all its users access to its newest anti-bullying feature. The app will now let everyone who uses its app selectively choose to “restrict” users who are engaging in bullying behavior.
The feature, which was first introduced earlier this summer, is meant to provide a middle ground between outright blocking — which the company says can cause bullies to escalate bad behavior — and doing nothing. When you use the new restrict feature, no one else will be able to see comments from the account you’ve restricted. They’ll still be visible to the original commenter, but they won’t appear for anyone else.
The idea, according to Instagram, is to limit the visibility of bullying behavior without causing further confrontation between the two people involved. A person who you’ve restricted will also be prevented from seeing read receipts on direct messages, which will be routed to message requests instead of your main inbox.
It’s not a perfect solution, as there are still ways a person might be able to detect that they’ve been “restricted,” such as by checking a secondary Instagram account, but it’s a step that could stop bullying messages from spreading on the platform.
The service has made anti-bullying features a focus in the past, including in-app reminders and comment filtering. Still, bullying has been a longtime issue for the photo-sharing app, particularly as it’s grown more and more popular with teens. A 2017 report found bullying was much more prevalent on Instagram than on Facebook or Snapchat.
Instagram is opting to roll out the new feature to all its users now to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month. The app will also be promoting anti-bullying content on its official channels, including IGTV.