Where Instagram’s Comment Moderation Tool Falls Flat

by Sean Ogino |

Where Instagram’s Comment Moderation Tool Falls Flat

It made headlines a few weeks ago when Justin Bieber had to shut down his Instagram account after his fans began leaving hateful comments on a photo of him and his new girlfriend, Sofia Richie. The Bieber isn’t the only one who gets hate–plenty of other celebrities and everyday people get harrassed online too.  Amidst such turbulent times when abuse is running amok on social media platforms, Instagram announced a new comment moderation tool. The aim is to allow users to flag keywords they do not want appearing in the comments on their pictures. Let’s take a look at how Instagram’s comment moderation capabilities work and what they’re really capable of…

bieber instagram

How Does Instagram’s Comment Moderation Work?

Instagram has made it incredibly simple. You just have to follow the following steps-

  • Go to your Profile tab.
  • Tap the Settings gear icon in the top right corner.
  • Find and tap “Comments.”
  • Toggle “Hide Inappropriate Comments” to automatically hide keywords that are “often reported as inappropriate.” Or, add your own custom keywords in the text box, separating each with a comma.
  • Tap “Done” to save your changes.


instagram comment moderation
In short, there are two options of how to block comments under Instagram’s comment moderation tool: default and custom. With the help of default option, you can hide unsuitable comments as per the standard list of keywords decided by Instagram. The custom settings permit the user to add his own words, phrases, hashtags and emojis that they would like to be filtered out of comments on their pictures. The custom option will certainly help Instagram account owners in keeping certain topics away, even if the words themselves weren’t considered abusive. You can block the hashtag of that particular viral topic.

Customized comments moderation is definitely bolder and more direct in comparison to Instagram’s already existing safety tools such as swiping to delete comments and reporting for inappropriate content. By giving full control over what they don’t want to see in their comment sections, users will be the whole and sole of the self-designed censorship. But just like with every other feature or app, there are some concerns with this moderation tool too. Some are technical, while some are conceptual. We will throw a glance at them.

Filtering Comments Doesn’t Hide Them From All Users

With this moderation tool, users have the power to filter comments containing specific keywords or phrases from appearing on their profile feed. But it’s important to know that they are just hidden. Instagram doesn’t remove them entirely.

If you hide certain comments of some user, they will remain hidden from you and your followers. However, anyone who knows that particular user can see them. This is especially worse for businesses who try hard to maintain their online reputation. Simply because without the knowledge of the user, it is allowing unacceptable comments to stay on a feed for longer than normal. The malicious content may begin its damage even before businesses realize that it exists in their comment sections.

Filters Cannot Be Completely Robust

The fans and social media followers of big brands and companies are not confined within the boundaries of only one country. Consequently, comments on photos and videos will be in different languages. Insults and slang from dozens of different languages will be hard to keep track of unless a company has a native from every country contributing to its social team. Regardless of how strong Instagram develops its filter, it’s almost impossible to check and verify each and every word of each and every language.

Chances of Further Upsetting Customers

There is a dilemma here. If you allow rants of a dissatisfied customer, which can be full of curse words and unacceptable tone, the page may look indecent. It may put other genuine people on your Instagram profile in an awkward position. However, if you use Instagram’s comment moderation capabilities to remove anything with a single curse word, customers may feel that you don’t listen to them. They may get angry seeing that their comment is being removed. In that sense, this comment filtering tool is like a double–edged sword. Thus, you have to be very careful while deciding what you wish to exclude from the comment.

Ambiguous Emojis

Instagram’s comment moderation tool lets you block emojis too. The problem with the emoji is its meaning or importance in the comment depends on the context in which it is being used rather that the imagery of the emoji itself. The same emoji may have a different meaning in different comments. And for any machine learning operation, the toughest part is to understand the context. Evidently, it will be difficult for this feature’s filter as well.

But, despite all the concerns that I have discussed here, this move by Instagram must be welcomed. And one also has to understand that it has born out of the necessity. Instagram is inherently public and people post private photos there. If the trolling and unmentionable words keep flooding the comment sections of the peoples’ and businesses’ accounts, it might result in a decrease in interest and engagement.

In a Nutshell…

Just 4 to 5 months ago Twitter came up with Comment Moderation Tools in Periscope broadcasts. And now Instagram has done the same thing. Instagram has even said that this is not the end, as it is trying to make Instagram a fun and safe place to be. Without a doubt, the coming times will see more and more social media platforms will give more power to their account holders when it comes to comments moderation and other parts of their user experience.

Note: We always keep a close watch on each and every happening in the social media world. We just discussed Facebook’s recent marketing updates, including the ability to tag products and create Snapchat-esque Stories in Messenger, and also covered everything you need to know about Facebook’s launch of MarketplaceTo know which new ad targeting tools Snapchat has added in its arsenal, have a glance at this blogSimilarly, to get acquainted with the latest Instagram updates, this blog is a must read.

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