After months of rumours, Instagram has finally revealed an anti-abuse feature which lets people deal with trolling and sift out spammy comments.
Announcing the news via a blog post yesterday, the Facebook-owned image-sharing platform revealed that it would now let users block abusive or inappropriate comments from appearing underneath their snaps.
The feature allows users to prevent comments containing specific words or phrases from appearing on their profile. Those posting pictures can chose to hide abuse comments based on a list of terms often reported as inappropriate to Instagram moderators, or they can ad custom keywords if they feel they will be specifically targeted on the site.
Kevin Systrom, Instagram's chief executive and co-founder said that the move was designed to "diligently to maintain what has kept Instagram positive and safe" for its 500-million strong userbase.
"To empower each individual, we need to promote a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment. It’s not only my personal wish to do this, I believe it’s also our responsibility as a company. So, today, we’re taking the next step to ensure Instagram remains a positive place to express yourself."
He also hinted that other features are in the pipeline to help combat trolling on the platform, promising users: "We know tools aren’t the only solution for this complex problem, but together, we can work towards keeping Instagram a safe place for self-expression.
"My commitment to you is that we will keep building features that safeguard the community and maintain what makes Instagram a positive and creative place for everyone."
The announcement has courted mixed reaction online, with some heralding the new function as a step forward.
I love that you can turn off comments on Instagram now.
— Gracie (@GraceFVictory) September 12, 2016
Others pointed out that brands could potentially use the tool to hide negative reviews.
@instagram Right so what do you plan to do about business who will exploit this tool to remove constructive reviews about their service? — K (@K_A_M28) September 12, 2016
Commentators have questioned whether the handing the reigns over to users is the best way to combat abuse online, but have acknowledged that Instagram looks to be tackling the issue head on.
Twitter unveiled a similar feature last month to block spam content, but it didn't come out and publicly say whether the tool was designed to stop harassment.
Instagram's new feature was first rolled out earlier this year to profiles which received a "high volume" of comments.
Despite rumours that Taylor Swift was toying with the filter, the company hadn't confirmed which accounts were trialing the roll out. Reports suggested that Taylor Swift was among those who got to sample the feature first, and model Chrissy Teigen gave users a preview of the product's early design over on Twitter.