Yesterday, Instagram mourned the departure of Star Wars: The Force Awakens lead Daisy Ridley. After posting her opinion about gun safety in an Instagram post yesterday, Ridley was ridiculed and belittled by people claiming to be fans, leading to the eventual self-imposed deletion of her account. Actor John Boyega later commented about the situation, saying that he won’t be asking Ridley to come back in the wake of the harassment. This follows a relentless, ugly, unfair targeted harassment campaign against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones on Twitter not long ago, and a never-ending string of harassment reports from social media users everywhere.
As Twitter continues to struggle with its handling of such situations, other services are also looking into what they can do to make the online experience safer and more sane for all of its users. Instagram, for example, is officially rolling out its previously-rumored word filter for users, which prevents certain words from appearing on a user’s comment section or feed.
Early reports from The Washington Post stated that Instagram would be rolling the feature out first to high-profile users; humanitarian, writer, and model Chrissy Teigen confirmed that today with a snapshot featuring some of her keywords. A recent study by Norton resulted in 76% of the surveyed women under 30 years old confirming that they’d been harassed online. The study’s publisher fears that online harassment, especially that which is directed toward women, is growing so common that it’s on its way to becoming “a norm in our society.”
There is extreme truth to that already, as Teigen herself admits in a grim tweet.
The move may not be a finalized solution, but it does help to combat what is often an endless stream of ugly words that fill a celebrity’s mentions (or a normal person’s, if they are exceptionally unlucky). In a similar way to Twitter’s mute feature, this method stops harassment before it happens, often without the perpetrator even realizing it. It’s effective, but again — far from a permanent solution.