Instagram Launches New Features And Tools For Safety And Wellbeing

Over the last two years, in tandem with the past two iterations of its #RealTalk Malaysia mental health campaign, Instagram has set a strong foundation in supporting the community on safety and mental wellbeing. Today, Instagram is announcing the rollout of additional safety and wellbeing features to limit unwanted interactions and give people more control over their experience on the platform.

A study from Harvard described the ‘see-saw’ of positive and negative experiences that US teens have on social media. Many find it helpful one day, and problematic the next. According to research by Pew Internet on teens in the US, 81% of teens said that social media makes them feel more connected to their friends, while 26% reported social media makes them feel worse about their lives.

Instagram is making new accounts private by default for people under 16, blocking potentially suspicious adults from interacting with teens on its platform, and restricting how advertisers can target young people. Private accounts let people control who sees or responds to their content. If users have a private account, people have to follow them to see their posts, Stories, and Reels. People also can’t comment on users’ content in those places, and they won’t see the user’s content recommended in places like Explore or hashtags.

Other new features include:

● Offering people the option to remove like counts: This option is available to everyone on Instagram and on Facebook, and one can enable them on their own posts, so others can’t see how many likes the posts get.

● Restrict: The Restrict setting allows other users to comment on the posts, but the comment can’t be viewed by anyone else but the account holder.

● Multi-Block: This feature allows users the option to both block their account and pre-emptively block new accounts that the person may create. This will make it harder for the person that has already blocked from contacting the user again through a new account.

● Limits: Users can hide comments and DMs from accounts that aren’t following them and/or accounts which followed them recently. This means that someone experiencing an episode of mass/intense harassment can protect themselves in just a few taps while continuing to interact with their long-standing community.

● Hidden words: A feature to filter abusive messages:. This tool focuses on DM requests, because this is where people usually receive abusive messages. With this tool, Instagram will automatically filter DM requests which contain offensive words, phrases, and emojis, so users never have to see them.

● Sensitive Content Controls: ‘Sensitive content’ posts don’t necessarily break Instagram’s Community Guidelines, but could be potentially upsetting to someone.

● Nudges: people will be encouraged to consume where the system will nudge the users to look at other content, if they have been dwelling too long when it sees the person has been dwelling on certain types of content. This new Instagram feature hopes to point people toward content that inspires and uplifts them.

As Instagram continues to listen and take feedback on how to do more for the community, #RealTalk 3.0 will be focusing on expanded efforts around:

○ Supporting and working with mental health partners who are experts in various specialties of mental health to drive greater collective impact and reach.

○ Social connection and inclusion amongst Malaysians that are integral in building emotional resilience and to help destigmatize mental health

○ To help destigmatize mental health and build emotional resilience, it is important to increase awareness and education around, and invest in the new safety and wellbeing features that Instagram introduced today.

The press launch today featured a panel discussion moderated by Philip, themed “Building and managing positive connections and experience on social media”. Philip was joined by Anita Abu Bakar, founder and president of Mental Health Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA) and #RealTalk3.0 creators and athletes, Janna Nick (Malaysian actress, host), Datuk Pandelela Rinong (Malaysian national diver and Olympian medalist), and Hafiz Slurpee Crank (Malaysian content creator) for this campaign.

The creators and athletes will share personal experiences on their Instagram and help to raise awareness on the importance of nurturing, guiding, and taking care of personal mental well-being. They will also share their tips on managing online experiences with the tools and resources available on Instagram.

Awareness Againsts Suicide (AWAS) Malaysia and BefriendersKL. This campaign aims to spark conversations, help to normalize discussions around mental health and well-being, and provide equitable access to basic mental health tools and resources. under the Meta integrated family of apps campaign.

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