Instagram just made it harder for trolls to slide into your DMs

Instagram blocking system update
(Image credit: Instagram)

Instagram has unveiled a suite of new safety features on iOS and Android to better shield users from offensive internet trolls. 

Improvements to the platform’s blocking system, updates to hidden words, kindness reminders and comment reply nudges – more on all four upgrades below – will work to prevent the abuse of general users and public figures alike, Instagram says. 

Now, for instance, when you block someone on Instagram, you'll also have the option to block other accounts that person may already have, in addition to those they may create in the future, making it more difficult for them to interact with you. Based on initial test results, Instagram reckons the change will result in four million more accounts being automatically blocked every week.

Instagram’s hidden word system – which filters out DM requests and comments containing offensive words, phrases and emojis – has been updated, too. The social media service has improved filtering to catch intentional misspellings of offensive terms, and the feature has been expanded to cover unwanted Story replies from random users. Switch it on in the app’s privacy settings, if you haven’t already.

Instagram safety updates being demonstrated on four screens

Updates to blocking, hidden words, comment nudges and kindness reminders (left to right) in action on Instagram (Image credit: Instagram)

In the future, Instagram says it’ll also apply this hidden word system to DM requests containing spam and scams – which (hopefully) means you’ll no longer have to manually delete those too-good-to-be-true pyramid scheme pitches. 

Kindness reminders are totally new, though they only apply to creators and public figures for the moment. Now, when you try to send a DM request to a creator, Instagram will show you a message at the bottom of the chat reminding you to be kind and keep Instagram a supportive place (see above). 

Comment nudges are based on the same principle and apply more broadly across Instagram as a whole. Building on existing comment warnings, new notifications will encourage people to pause and consider how they want to respond before replying to a comment that Instagram’s systems flag as potentially offensive. 

Instagram says these nudges are live now for people whose Instagram apps are set to English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Chinese or Arabic. Presumably, more regions will follow in the future. 

For more Instagram-related content, check out our guides on how to change your Instagram password (or reset it), switch on dark mode, and how to turn off ‘precise location’ tracking (spoiler: it's easy). 

Axel Metz
Phones Editor

Axel is TechRadar's UK-based Phones Editor, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest AI breakthroughs as part of the site's Mobile Computing vertical. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.  Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.