Facebook has been criticized for building echo chambers, and it appears they aren't done with it. The latest example is a new filter on Instagram that allows users to block hate speech, or what Facebook's algorithms detect to be inappropriate or offensive comments.
Here we have the intriguing case study where the echo chamber — a black box of no hate — is being applauded by power users of the app. The update gives the user full control over this new echo chamber, where they can choose to let algorithms filter out potentially hateful comments.
"This filter is amazingly helpful. All of us, but especially young people, need to filter out the hateful evil stuff that hits the heart like a ton of bricks," said Jeffrey Marsh, an author and LGBTQ advocate who actively uses many social media platforms.
"I've been called every kind of name you can imagine in internet comments, and I never thought I'd see the day when we could start the journey toward a less hateful experience," they continued.
Instagram places the power in the hands of the poster. If Marsh has the filter on, any user who views his posts or live videos will not see the inappropriate comments — even if they choose to not have the filter activated. Marsh is in full control of making theirs Instagram posts a safe space.
The filter is also automatically on.
"If you want to delve into the sea of dismal comments, be my guest. I think it's intelligent that Instagram is making it opt-out but is giving users the option to see the deluge if they'd like to," said Holden Page, editor at Crunchbase News, who has previously written about Instagram as a safe haven.
Why would you want the filter on? Instagram, just the rest of the internet, is not safe from haters.
Even if an account is public, Instagram users, just like other trolls across the internet, feel compelled to post hateful comments.
Prior to this update, Instagram users could report individual comments and users. This update makes the entire process easier, which is especially crucial for accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers.
Instagram's filtering concept is not a brand new idea. In fact, Marsh said they worked with Twitter's now-defunct app Vine to implement and develop similar features. But it's a welcomed step.
"I couldn't be happier that Instagram is stepping up and making a commitment to let users control their online experience this way," Marsh said.