Instagram Works on Anti-Bullying with New Bully Filter

Social Media takes a lot of flak from all directions. While recently social networks, Facebook specifically, have come under fire for collecting data, they’re also known for allowing bullies to hone their craft. Instagram plans to push back against that by expanding its anti-bullying initiative. They’re adding a new bully filter that aims to block harassing or bullying comments.

The Bullying Problem

Everyone understands the bullying problem as they’ve all been there at one point: Young and old, social media users and not, even bullies themselves, everyone has been bullied at some point.

And there’s just something about the online platform that makes bullying more frequent. It’s as if bullies feel more at ease to bully others, as it’s removed and not in person, leaving less of a fear of retribution.

Ditch the Label, an online anti-bullying organization, completed a study in 2017. They found that 71 percent of those in the study who resided in the UK said social networks don’t do enough to fight online bullying.


With regards to Instagram in particular, 42 percent of more than 10,000 people aged 12 to 20 said they have been cyberbullied on Instagram sometime in the past year.

New Bully Filter

Instagram is promising they will review all those accounts that get a large number of their comments weeded out. If these accounts are in violation of the community guidelines for the social network, they’ll act on it and may even ban the offender.

The bully filter will also hide comments that knock someone for their appearance or character and make Instagram aware when there are repeat offenders.

This isn’t the first move Instagram has made toward eliminating bullying. They actually started this initiative last year. “To be clear, we don’t tolerate bullying on Instagram,” said Kevin Systrom, chief executive and co-founder, to Instagram’s users.

Additionally, they plan to beef up their policies against young celebrities who often get hateful messages.


Protecting our youngest community members is crucial to helping them feel comfortable to express who they are and what they care about,” explained Systrom.

Comments were at first rated and reviewed by a team of people looking for bullying, racism, or sexual harassment, but now the social network is using a machine-learning algorithm, DeepText, to find cyberbullies. It was actually built by Facebook and uses AI to find the more hurtful words in posts and comments.

What we are concentrating on is building the tools so people can control their experience on Instagram,” explained Karina Newton, head of Instagram’s public policy. “Those will improve over time.

Just the Beginning

Eliminating bullying is just one area where Instagram is planning to improve their experience for their 800 million users. They are also working on a “kindness” campaign which entails hosting events designed to promote inclusion and diversity.

It’s been our goal to make it a safe place for self expression and to foster kindness within the community,” said Systrom. “This update is just the next step in our mission to deliver on that promise.

Are you an Instagram user? Have you been bothered by the bullying? Do you think this will help? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. I wonder how the DeepText algorithm is set up. Is it going to limit all posters to only positive comments and not allow any differences of opinion? There are people with low self-esteem that cannot handle comments that do not agree with their point of view. They may even feel bullied by any negative comments.

    You and I rarely see eye to eye on a topic. It’s nothing personal, I just happen to disagree with your general philosophy. Sometimes I have expressed my opinions in strong terms. Have you ever felt “bullied” by my comments?

    1. Not one bit, Dragonmouth. For one, I have a really tough skin. For another, I agree that some see disagreements as bullying. It’s like my children who would hear me disagree with them and interpret it as me yelling at them even when I’m not. Like I said one time before, I set out to make readers think, feel, and maybe even laugh no matter what I write. If you comment, you’re either thinking or feeling, so I’ve done my job, whether or not you agree.

      Bullying is the people who have commented on my YouTube videos that I’m old, ugly, told me I should die, told me I deserved cancer, etc. That’s bullying.

      I do believe we need to do more to stop bullying online and offline, but I also agree that some interpret disagreements as bullying.

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