Navigating the Instagram comments on popular accounts can be, for lack of a better term, a hassle. Thousands of comments roll in at once — some complimentary, some abusive, some straight-up nonsense. As has now become custom in such instances, celebrity targets are flooded with emoji, as was the case when Kanye fought with Wiz Khalifa, or when Rachel Roy hinted that she was “Becky,” or when Kim Kardashian burned Taylor Swift last week.
Today, the Washington Post reports that Instagram is planning to introduce tools that allow users to moderate comments themselves, filtering what appears in the cacophony of text and emoji underneath their photos. “We have slowly begun to offer accounts with high-volume comment threads the option to moderate their comment experience. As we learn, we look forward to improving the comment experience for our broader community,” the network’s head of public policy told the Post.
One of the first big hints that Instagram was checking out moderation tools came during the Taylor Swift Insta-raid last week, when it appeared that comments with more than 26 snake emoji were being mysteriously disappeared. Instagram would not confirm to the Post whether the vanishing snakes and the new mod tools were related.
Instagram’s announcement comes in the midst of a broader ongoing conversation about online harassment, particularly around default-public services like Twitter. Just last week, comedian Leslie Jones was harassed off the service for a couple of days after dealing with overwhelming racist vitriol. That Instagram is working on the problem, while Twitter remains frustratingly vague about possible solutions, is a bit embarrassing.
The filtering feature will be available to all users in the coming weeks. The service will also let users turn off comments on individual posts.