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Instagram asks bullies to think twice

An anti-bullying initiative has been launched by instagram following high-profile cases such as the death of British teenager Molly Russell.

Instagram has unveiled an anti-bullying initiative following high-profile cases such as the death of British teenager Molly Russell.

The social media site has started rolling out a new feature that notifies people before they post that their comment may be considered offensive.

Announcing the changes, the company's chief executive Adam Mosseri said: "We can do more to prevent bullying from happening on Instagram, and we can do more to empower the targets of bullying to stand up for themselves."

"This intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification," he added.

Early tests have found it proved successful in encouraging some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful, he said.

An example of how the feature works would be where a person types "you are so ugly and stupid", and is then interrupted with a notice saying: "Are you sure you want to post this? Learn more".

If the user clicks "learn more", a notice tells them: "We are asking people to rethink comments that seem similar to others that have been reported."

Mosseri said online bullying was "a complex issue" and that Instagram has for years used artificial intelligence to detect bullying and other types of harmful content.

"This is especially crucial for teens since they are less likely to report online bullying even when they are the ones who experience it the most," he said.

When British schoolgirl Molly Russell, 14, took her own life in November 2017, her father Ian said he believed Instagram was partly responsible for her death.

Speaking at the NSPCC's How Safe Are Our Children? conference in June, Mr Russell said: "It is important to acknowledge that they (tech firms) do a lot of good, but sadly their platforms are being used by people to do harm and they have not done enough to prevent that.

"Unless change happens, their platforms will become toxic."

Mosseri said it was the platform's responsibility to create a safe environment on Instagram.

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