Facebook, Instagram now tackling bullying and hate speech — automatically | Tech News

Comments that are “intended to harass” can now be filtered out on Instagram. And on Facebook, artificial intelligence is scouring the social media site for bad content.

The Instagram “filter” was automatically rolled out May 1 to all users, and will look for attacks on people’s appearances and character as well as threats. Users can disable it themselves if they want.

Along with the filter, Instagram will also expand their policies for the protection of young public figures.

“Since Mike and I founded Instagram, it’s been our goal to make it a safe place for self-expression and to foster kindness within the community. This update is just the next step in our mission to deliver on that promise,” Kevin Systrom, co-founder & CEO of Instagram, said in a blog post.

The new feature comes less than a year after Instagram announced an “offensive comment filter” which automatically screens posts for toxic and threatening comments.

READ MORE: Facebook to add ‘clear browsing history’ feature amid privacy scandal

As for Facebook, the company says it is harnessing artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies to more proactively remove bad content, such as hate speech, and violence and terrorist videos, from the platform.

Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice-president for product management, said in a blog post that the social media giant has been working on analyzing confirmed examples of bad content in order to help teach software programs to proactively identify other troublesome content even before it is reported.

However, he cautioned that tech companies like Facebook are still years away from relying entirely on artificial intelligence to detect bad content.

“Artificial intelligence, for example, is very promising but we are still years away from it being effective for all kinds of bad content because context is so important. That’s why we have people still reviewing reports,” he wrote.

Indeed, Facebook’s stated mission to combat hate speech has not been without glitches. The platform recently announced that it is testing a button that will allow users to report posts that contain hate speech — but a bug caused many users to see the “report hate speech” button on non-threatening posts, including one by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Bullying experts have welcomed the moves by Instagram and Facebook, saying there’s a need to act fast in the face of a rise in online bullying.

“As technology speeds ahead, the socio-emotional needs of our youth can be overlooked,” Dr. Jillian Roberts, a child psychologist and co-founder of FamilySparks, told Global News.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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