Instagram cracks down on abuse with new safety features after incident involving Premier League star | Science & Tech News

Instagram has announced a new safety tool that will allow high profile figures to fend off abuse, days after a Premier League footballer revealed he was racially harassed on the platform.

Striker Ivan Toney received a racist and abusive message after his 100th match for Brentford last weekend.

The 26-year-old posted screenshots of the abuse and the perpetrator’s account on Twitter, writing: “I wasn’t even going to post this but I woke up angry…”

Following the incident, Instagram’s parent company Meta said they had reached out to Toney to offer support and arrange a briefing on their safety features.

New protective features announced on Thursday include blocking multiple accounts owned by the same person, a notification nudging people to be respectful before commenting on a post, and an expansion of the Hidden Words tool for users with Creator accounts.

Hidden Words was introduced to the app last year and, when turned on, it automatically filters harmful content from comments and message requests. Instagram will now be turning the tool on automatically for Creator accounts.

The feature will expand to cover story replies so that offensive replies from accounts not followed by the user will be sent to a Hidden Requests folder.

Filtering tools will also be improved to recognise and hide more intentionally misspelled offensive terms – when an “I” is replaced with a “1” for example.

The platform will additionally send notifications to users who reply to an offensive comment, discouraging them from piling on heated discussions.

“We’ll continue to work on more ways to protect people from abuse on Instagram while encouraging supportive and respectful conversations,” the social media giant said in a blog post on the announcements.

The nudging feature is already live for people whose apps are set to English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Chinese or Arabic, the company said, and will be rolled out globally in the coming weeks.

“This nudge helps people remember that there’s a real person on the other side of their DM request, and encourages more respectful outreach to people they may not know,” Instagram added.

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