Instagram just announced it's adding a bunch of important safety features to its app to make it a safer space for creative expression. (And dog memes.) Insta was already our favorite selfie-sharing platform, and these new features make us love it a little extra.
You'll see the first change in the comments section of your own posts. Before, your only option was to disable all the comments at once, but Instagram's update allows you to choose from groups of people, like accounts you follow or your followers, or hand-pick certain users you want to block. So, yeah, you can finally stop your mom from commenting on all your #TBT baby pics. But you can also knock out bullies or mean comments one by one.
The second change also has to do with comments—back in June, Instagram launched a filter that automatically blocks offensive comments. In this update, that filter gets an upgrade. Now it works in Arabic, French, German, and Portuguese, in addition to English, in order to reach more of Instagram's 800 million users.
There will also be a big change coming to live videos. Have you ever seen a story or a live video where the person looks like they're going through a hard time? Maybe you feel comfortable sending them a message and asking if they're OK, but maybe you don't. If you don't, now you can anonymously report their video to Instagram so they get the help they might need.
If a user chooses the "talk with a helpline volunteer" option, they'll be connected to a new team of people trained to help and support them. Though we hope no one ever needs to use this feature, it shows that Instagram takes mental health seriously. Social media can be a dangerous place, and this could actually save lives.
The final feature is a little more fun—it's all about spreading the love. Instagram is adding heart-shaped stickers to encourage kind comments on posts. Related to this, Instagram is also launching a new IRL project called #KindnessComments—it'll be working with artists around the world to turn city walls into colorful murals that you can enjoy... and obviously share on Instagram.
These features might seem small, and they won't necessarily change how we use Instagram on a daily basis. But they're all pushing the platform to be a safer space. Making social media a more positive, mental health-conscious environment is something we should be trying harder to do, and we're impressed with the progress Instagram is making. Let's hope other platforms follow suit.