Instagram Launches Genius New Feature To Prevent Self-Harm

The social network has created one of its most practical features, helping those suffering from mental health issues

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Forget filters, 'likes' and Instagram Stories for a second.

Ask yourself, what do you use Instagram for?

For most of us, the social network is a way of capturing the beauty of the world around us in an instant, sharing our adventures and most memorable life moments to friends, family and the odd random follower.

It's also a way of telling the world how we feel – whether it's the elation at taking a trip to Australia to see a best friend or the pride at a family member finishing a marathon. But, it's also a way of informing the world that actually, everything isn't okay. That, in fact, you need help.

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Fortunately, Instagram has recognised how it can support users who might be using the social platform as a cry for help by launching a new feature that enables friends and followers to anonymously report posts about self-harm.

A Note from Kevin Systrom (@kevin): When Mike and I first created Instagram, we wanted it to be a welcoming community where people could share their lives. Images have the ability to inspire and bring out the best in us, whether they are funny, sad or beautiful. Over the past five years, I’ve watched in wonder as this community has grown to 500 million, with stories from every corner of the world. With this growth, we want to work diligently to maintain what has kept Instagram positive and safe, especially in the comments on your photos and videos. The beauty of the Instagram community is the diversity of its members. All different types of people — from diverse backgrounds, races, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and more — call Instagram home, but sometimes the comments on their posts can be unkind. 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. The first feature we’re introducing is a keyword moderation tool that anyone can use. Now, when you tap the gear icon on your profile, you’ll find a new Comments tool. This feature lets you list words you consider offensive or inappropriate. Comments with these words will be hidden from your posts. You can choose your own list of words or use default words we’ve provided. This is in addition to the tools we’ve already developed such as swiping to delete comments, reporting inappropriate comments and blocking accounts. We know tools aren’t the only solution for this complex problem, but together we can work toward 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. To learn more about comments on Instagram, check out help.instagram.com. Kevin Systrom CEO & Co-founder, Instagram

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When a post triggers concern or an indication that someone might be putting themselves in danger, a message will appear on the app to say: 'Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we'd like to help.'

The app will then offer suggestions to help the person (which you can access via the app), whether that's calling a friend, using the number of a helpline or providing information about receiving mental health support.

Users who also use the hashtag '#selfharm' in the search box will also be directed to this sight (most hashtags of this genre are banned on the app).

With the guidance of the National Eating Disorders Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Instagram has created the message so that its wording is appropriate for those in need.

Instagram COO Marne Levine told Seventeen magazine: 'These tools are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you, at a moment when you might most need that reminder.'

Technology really is wonderful sometimes.

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