Technology

Instagram will finally permanently ban racists alongside other measures

Instagram and Facebook will finally start banning those who use their platforms for racist abuse, as part of a suite of new measures.

The changes come as the social networks face intense criticism over online abuse of footballers who use their platforms.

Footballers including Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have been the subject of intense racist abuse on the paltform in recent weeks.

In an attempt to fix those issues, and to respond to criticism from the FA and others, the company said that it would be taking new steps to keep such people off its platform.

Chief among them is a change that will see the company start permanently banning those users it finds are sending racist messages, not just indefinitely suspending them.

“I am horrified that they have to deal with that sort of abuse and as a company we take it very seriously,” Facebook content policy manager Fadzai Madzingira told the Press Association, announcing the new measures.

“We’ve always had rules around people who abuse our community standards in Instagram direct messaging, specifically.

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“Currently we will set a specific ban or what we call a block for a set amount of time when someone violates those rules and we extend that time should they continue to do so.

“What we’re announcing today is that we’re taking tougher measures on people who violate those rules in Instagram direct messaging, so instead of just extending the time, we’ll be removing the accounts altogether.

“That allows us to ensure that we have a lower tolerance for that sort of abuse in direct messaging and we’ll be closing those accounts more quickly in Instagram direct messaging than anywhere else on the platform.”

In addition to the bans, Ms Madzingira also said that Instagram would be rolling out the ability to stop receiving direct messages from people they don’t know. At the moment, that option is available only to business and creator accounts, but not to individuals.

Instagram is limited in the amount it can do about abuse in messages, she said, because the company does not proactively monitor or read them as they are sent.

But the company is working on filters that are able to spot racist words, emoji or other kinds of abuse and block those comments from appearing on people’s posts, she said.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden praised the moves, while criticising the fact it had taken so long and calling for more proactive measures.

“For too long the world’s most popular and powerful social media companies have failed to tackle the stream of horrific racist attacks on their platforms,” he said.

“I welcome Instagram’s improved policies but racist abuse is still a fact of life for too many people and more has to be done across the board to stamp it out.

“We’re introducing a new age of accountability for these companies through our upcoming Online Safety Bill and this could see huge fines for firms which fail to clearly and transparently protect their users.”

Source:

www.independent.co.uk

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