When hundreds of snake emojis disappear from Taylor Swift’s Instagram account overnight, you know something’s up. And that something just happens to be the start of Instagram's anti-bullying tool.
Taylor Swift’s Insta-page was flooded with snake emojis after Kim Kardashian’s SnapChat expose (if you need a refresher on the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty, read this first), but it wasn’t long before every single serpent mysteriously disappeared from Taylor’s comments. Weird, considering up to now you could only delete comments one by one. Instagram have reportedly opened up a new tool to Taylor (and other high-profile users) allowing her to delete abusive comments en masse. Sorry, Rachel Roy, those lemon emojis came three months too soon…
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Instagram has since confirmed the anti-abuse tactic, which is being trialled amongst a number of users who generate a high volume of comments, saying, ‘We’re always looking for ways to help people have a positive experience with comments on Instagram. We're currently focused on providing tools to improve accounts with the most high-volume comment threads, and we will use our learnings to continue to improve the comment experience on Instagram’.
Celebrities have to put up with a lot online. They’re trolled on a daily basis, told to kill themselves, insulted, mocked and basically bullied, but it’s all ‘ok’ because they’re ‘famous’? Nope, it’s not OK. And the fact that Instagram is doing something about it is definitely a step in the right direction.
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It’s about time social media took a stand against the horrific racist, sexist and ageist (we could go on…) abuse hurled at people in the public eye behind the safety of an iPhone screen, especially after Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones was forced to quit Twitter to get away from the relentless racist and misogynistic comments she had to scroll through every single day. But who gets to decide what’s abusive, and what’s healthy debate? Giving someone permission to mass delete comments that they deem ‘spam’ might be the start of something more murky, where celebrities and brands can manipulate their online image in an unfairly favourable way.
Social media has always been about freedom of expression, and breaking down barriers between A-listers and their fans. Will this new tool build those walls back up? Let us know whether you think Instagram's new tool is long overdue or a good intention gone too far below...