Culture

Instagram will allow users to mass-delete negative comments

The ability to highlight nice comments is also in the works.

Hand holding smartphone glyph icon. Silhouette symbol. Smart phone data delete app. Negative space. Raster isolated illustration
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On Tuesday, Instagram announced the fifth edition of its Community Standards Enforcement report, folding in a few new anti-bullying measures. Most notably, the platform will allow users to delete comments more efficiently, whether they’re sole outliers or a deluge. Additionally, instead of going all-in on choosing whether anyone can tag them or not, users can selectively allow people they follow to tag them in photos, comments, and stories. Instagram is also working on highlighting positive comments with an upcoming pin feature.

This comment doesn’t bring me joy — While these new features will undoubtedly help curb some bullying tactics on the platform, these will most significantly benefit those with larger followings. Whether you’re a micro-influencer or Selena Gomez, the ability to mass delete comments can completely squash negativity and break the tidal wave of porn spam bots.

Bulk comment deletion on iOS.Instagram

Users can now delete up to 25 comments in one fell swoop by either pressing the three dots in the comments section, selecting Manage Comments, and ticking offensive comments (iOS) or long-pressing each comment (Android). To Block or Restrict the highlighted accounts, iOS users tap More Options while Android users tap the three dots next to the delete button.

The dark side — Of course, there will be opportunities to abuse this power if an account holder simply wants to silence those who disagree with them. Instagram took action on 1.5 million bullying and harassment content from January to March, holding fairly steady from the previous quarter. Of the reported content, approximately 87,600 cases* were appealed and about 15,100 were restored (with or without an appeal).

Though this number is a fraction of what Instagram dealt with overall, it’s not an insignificant amount of people wrongfully accused of harmful behavior. It also doesn’t take into account those who might not want to deal with an appeal.

"Because bullying and harassment are highly personal by nature, in many instances, we need a person to report this behavior to us before we can identify or remove it," reads the report. "This means that using technology to proactively detect bullying and harassment can be more challenging than other violation types."

Facing a brick wall technologically, Instagram appears to be turning to its users to fill in the gaps. By giving users the power to act as real-time moderators, it removes the accountability inherent in the reporting process (and takes the heat off Instagram). Most of the violating content on the platform is still self-reported, with Instagram managing to catch 35.2 percent of it — a figure marginally lower than the previous quarter.

Pinning positive comments on iOS.Instagram

The potential for creating an echo chamber is increased by the ability to pin comments, a feature currently in the testing phase. In a perfect world, it rewards close friends or major fans, but could also serve to drown out criticism.

*As of this writing, the report incorrectly lists this data as being procured from Facebook. Facebook has confirmed the data cited here is specifically for Instagram.