Instagram announces plan to allow users ‘shadow ban’ bullies on their accounts. This allows the user to block bullies on their profile without the knowledge of the bully. The bully’s comment will only be visible to the bully himself. This development was motivated by the fact that people are reluctant to block, unfollow their bully because this usually escalates the issue especially if they have to still deal with them in settings like schools.
The social media giant will be rolling out an AI which will after detecting harmful content in photos, videos and comment, notifies the sender of the potential harm the comment may cause. Early testing of this feature found that it encouraged people to not only reflect but also change their initial comment.
It seems that social media giants are indeed taking steps to ensure that their platform is a safe haven where people can interact without judgement and bullying which has led to dire situations like suicide. This is in line with all the calls made by their users, government, civil society and human rights institutions.
The reality is that the anonymity and distance social media provides allow people to say things they would never really say in person and it increases the reach of a bully beyond the walls of the school. However the truth of the matter is that social media merely amplifies the rotten fabric that is developing or already part of our society. As such our response to the social ills we see on social media – bullying, external validation, self-absorption, lack of critical thinking and mob mentality – cannot be entirely addressed by this laudable actions taken by social media giants.
We the people, need to look inward, identify the issues and take conscious steps to heal our society as the responsibility ultimately lies with us.