What Taylor Swift had first on Instagram, we now all get.
Instagram announced on Monday an update that gives users tools for moderating comments on their photos. Users can opt in to comment filtering, which hides comments that include words on Instagram’s default list of keywords.
Instagram isn’t making that default list of offensive words available, a spokesperson tells Inverse, but she describes the list as extensive and including obvious profanity in English. Users can go one step further and add their own keywords to a custom list beyond the default. Keywords can be words, numbers, or even emojis, and users can add thousands words to their very own banned list.
This moderating feature doesn’t actually delete comments; it just hides them. Those comments are “ghost-banned.” For example, a commenter can still see her own comment, so she has no way of knowing whether someone else has opted in for comment moderation, but other users wont be able to see the comment. If a user decides to turn off the comment filter, all those hidden comments will be visible to everyone.
The approach to comment moderation varies from site to site, with some giving users more control than others. Snapchat requires users to report and block people, but there isn’t an automatic filter to get rid of offensive content. Twitter doesn’t allow users to filter the posts they see, and abusive or offensive content must be reported. Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, allows real-time comment moderation and even polls other viewers on whether a comment is offensive. Pages on Facebook, but not individuals, can turn on a profanity filter set to medium or strong for comments and posts, as well as add keywords to a custom list. Otherwise, Facebook users can block messages or invitations from others.
In early August, Instagram slowly began to roll out the word filters. Users noticed this en masse after Kim Kardashian posted this Snapchat of Taylor Swift appearing to approve a controversial Kanye West lyric after she said she hadn’t. Following this, Kim and Kanye fans posted the snake emoji as comments on T-Swift’s Instagram. After a few hours, users reported not being able to post that specific emoji to her account. So, yeah, there was keyword filtering early, but only for a select few.