Instagram to use artificial intelligence to spot bullying in photos

Instagram announced it has started using artificial intelligence to detect cyberbullying in photos posted on its social network platform, highlighting efforts from tech companies to use automation in their moderation process.

The new head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said online bullying is a complicated problem that affects a significant amount of users.

“While the majority of photos shared on Instagram are positive and bring people joy, occasionally a photo is shared that is unkind or unwelcome. We are now using machine learning technology to proactively detect bullying in photos and their captions and send them to our Community Operations team to review,” Mosseri said in a press release.


Instagram users can already report content violating the service’s guidelines, but the new tools can automatically detect bullying.

The technology is currently being rolled out and will be more widespread in the coming weeks. Mosseri acknowledged the tool will help people who do not typically report bullying, such as younger members.

Following Facebook’s lead, Instagram’s bullying comment filter will also be used in Live Videos. Instagram said it will be able to automatically hide offensive comments, and users can add manual filters to support the algorithm.

Cyberbullying has been a hot topic lately with many tech companies facing scrutiny for not providing better harassment and hate speech policies. Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, has hired thousands of people to review content that potentially violates its rules of conduct. However, the tech giant can only regulate so much, leading to a race between the company and trolls who post offensive content.

“While stopping bullies is important, we must also do more to celebrate and inspire kindness on Instagram,” Mosseri state.


Mosseri, who previously ran Facebook’s News Feed, was announced as the head of Instagram at the beginning of October. Instagram’s co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, announced their departure from the company in September.

In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month in the U.S., Instagram has also introduced a Kindness Camera Effect in collaboration with Maddie Ziegler to inspire positivity. When in selfie mode, hearts will fill the screen and users will be encouraged to tag a friend they want to support.

Though Instagram admittedly has more to do to protect users within its community, Mosseri says Instagram is “pleased to announce these new ways to combat bullying.”

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