Instagram launches feature to combat hate speech and abuse

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Facebook Inc ‘s (NASDAQ: FB ) Instagram is rolling out a feature to prevent users from seeing potentially abusive messages by filtering out offensive words, phrases and emojis on the photo-sharing app.

The company said Wednesday that along with the filter option for abusive direct messages, it will also make it more difficult for people blocked by users to bypass them and contact them through new accounts.

Instagram has been pressing in its efforts to tackle hate speech and online abuse on its platform, which is more popular than the main Facebook app among teens and young adults.

The filter, which can be turned on in Instagram’s privacy settings, can be customized by users to include words, phrases and emojis they want to block or avoid receiving in their message requests.

Users can use their discretion to report, delete or open the messages, which will be classified in a folder of hidden requests, Instagram said.

The feature, which only applies to direct message requests and not the inbox itself, will roll out to some countries in the coming weeks, Instagram said.

Starting in a few weeks, all users will also have the expanded option to completely block people who contact them on Instagram, after blocking their account.

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