Instagram announced last week that they will begin policing private messages in their latest crackdown on so-called “hate speech.”
Citing “targeted footballers in the UK,” the platform announced Wednesday that they will be taking “more steps” “to help prevent” abuse and hate speech in direct messages:
“So today we’re announcing some new measures, including removing the accounts of people who send abusive messages, and developing new controls to help reduce the abuse people see in their DMs.”
The platform’s “stance on hate speech” includes a zero tolerance policy for “attacks on people based on their protected characteristics, including race or religion.”
“We strengthened these rules last year, banning more implicit forms of hate speech, like content depicting Blackface and common antisemitic tropes,” Instagram said. The company bragged that they “took action on 6.5 million pieces of hate speech on Instagram, including in DMs, 95% of which we found before anyone reported it” between July and September of last year.
The penalties for “abusive messages” are now even stricter:
Today, we’re announcing that we’ll take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules in DMs. Currently, when someone sends DMs that break our rules, we prohibit that person from sending any more messages for a set period of time. Now, if someone continues to send violating messages, we’ll disable their account. We’ll also disable new accounts created to get around our messaging restrictions, and will continue to disable accounts we find that are created purely to send abusive messages.
Instagram noted that they’ve teamed up with law enforcement: “We’re also committed to cooperation with UK law enforcement authorities on hate speech and will respond to valid legal requests for information in these cases,” the platform boasted. “As we do with all requests from law enforcement, we’ll push back if they’re too broad, inconsistent with human rights, or not legally valid.”
In January, the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said Facebook, which owns Instagram, has a bias, replying to a tweet about the massive platform, “We’re not neutral.”
“We’re not neutral,” Mosseri admitted. “No platform is neutral, we all have values and those values influence the decisions we make.”
“We try and be apolitical,” he added, “but that’s increasingly difficult, particularly in the US where people are more and more polarized.”
Mosseri’s comments came on the heels of the apparently coordinated censorship of President Donald Trump from Twitter, Facebook, and then YouTube. Apple, Google, and Amazon, too, teamed up in nuking Parler, an alternative to Twitter, for allegedly insufficiently censoring “violent content.”
Parler returned, on new servers, on Monday.
Twitter, in January, banned then-President Donald Trump from their platform permanently, alleging the account was a “risk of further incitement of violence.”
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in a statement. “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.”