Is anywhere online safe anymore? If you’ve ever been bullied online, you’ll understand how big of a problem this has become. True, social media can be a tool for goodness, but it could also be a very dark place. Twitter and Facebook, two of the largest online platforms, have constantly been pressured to take measurements against bullying, harassment, and other ways in which they could be used as tools for other criminal activities. But you might be surprised—Instagram is actually a hotbed for these harmful acts too. Maybe even worse.
If you remember, just this June, Star Wars: The Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran deleted all her Instagram posts after relentless harassment. The following month, Pete Davidson quit the site, too. His then-fiancée, Ariana Grande, had to turn off the comments section of her account. Justin Bieber also quit for a time due to harassment. Last September, Khloé Kardashian was forced to restrict permissions on her account after getting racist comments about her daughter, who is six months old. Even Selena Gomez, the most followed on Instagram, isn’t immune to harassment.
If @instagram’s number 1 followed account is dealing with constant issues of bullying and harrassment on her page maybe they should actually enforce their policies of suspending and banning people who engage in that behavor. I never see reporting someone’s comment actually work.
— Lauren (@SelOnTheBrain) September 25, 2018
You might think them getting harassed isn’t a shocker because they’re a public figure, after all. But that isn’t the case. In an interview conducted by The Atlantic, they obtained insights from users who “described painful, sustained, sometimes terrifying abuse on the platform—abuse they say Instagram has repeatedly failed to stem.” Among them are a teenage who have rare form of dwarfism, and a 14-year-old girl whose account was devoted to American Girl dolls. Like the celebrities, both of them were forced to leave the platform due to incessant harassment. Others interviewed reported receiving as far as rape and death threats. They all said they tried reporting the harassment online but that “the company takes days to address them, if it does at all.” One of those interviewed said, in the end, he ends up just deleting them on his own: “You want it to end, but you also know that nothing is going to happen if it takes months and months for your report to go through. It produces more fear and anxiety… than whatever’s posted.”
Hey @instagram, I saw what the picture was of, and I saw the message telling my wife to choke to death on it. If that’s not a violation of your community guidelines, then I don’t want to be part of your community. pic.twitter.com/sIktA7AYCD
— Daniel Kibblesmith ☃️ (@kibblesmith) October 3, 2018
Though Instagram is known for campaigns like the #KindComments campaign, in which celebrities like Jessica Alba encouraged users to leave nice feedback on one another’s photos, it may seem these are nothing but pure PR. Despite establishing itself as the “nicest place on the internet,” a lot of users would agree it’s anything but. One user said, “A long time ago, I stopped being as active on Twitter because I thought that was the place where I would get a lot of harassment, but lately I get way more harassment on Instagram than I ever did on Twitter.”
I won’t be having instagram for awhile due to harassment :/
i love 💕 Twitter though 😇😇😇
— Sasha j. (@Sashaj34748217) October 2, 2018
According to The Atlantic, three current or former Instagram employees told them that they believe the company hasn’t done enough “to protect users from large-scale harassment, and that projects that would seem to tackle the issue are understaffed and unprioritized.”
“There’s an effort called ‘kindness,’ which is to reduce bullying and harassment, but there’s not that many people working on it,” one of them said. “Generally, what you’ll find is a lot of these efforts on harassment or bullying, or there’s a new feature to track how much time you spend—they’re mostly done for PR.” Another Instagram employee said the same thing: that Instagram’s anti-bullying ideals “doesn’t seem connected to what’s actually going on in the company.”[The Atlantic]
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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