Instagram is finally working on protecting users from unsolicited nude photos

The Instagram icon is presented amidst a background filled with pink, orange, and purple shapes.
Artwork by Kristen Radtke/MovieBeat

Instagram is working on a way to protect users from receiving unsolicited nude photos in their DMs. Instagram’s parent company, Meta, has confirmed The edge that the feature was in development after an app finder posted a first picture of the tool.

Meta says optional user controls, which are still in early stages of development, will help people protect themselves from nude photos and other unwanted messages.

The tech giant likened these controls to its Wordsearch feature, which allows users to automatically filter direct message requests that contain offensive content.

According to Meta, the technology will not allow Meta to view the actual messages or share them with third parties. “We are working closely with experts to ensure these new features preserve people’s privacy, while giving them control over the messages they receive,” Meta spokeswoman Liz Fernandez said.

Meta says it will share more details about the new feature in the coming weeks as they get closer to testing.

A report released earlier this year by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a UK-based nonprofit, found that Instagram’s tools failed to act on 90% of abusive image-based direct messages sent to people. high-level women. Many received sexual images of men, and even the ‘wordsearch’ feature couldn’t completely filter out swear words like ‘bitch’.

Meanwhile, last year the Pew Research Center released a report which found that 33% of women under 35 had been sexually harassed online.

The work on the new Instagram feature comes as cyberflashing, which is the sending of unsolicited sexual messages to strangers – often women – online, could soon become a criminal offense in the UK if Parliament passes the bill. online security law.

However, cyberflash is not a crime in most of the United States, although Texas made cyberflash a misdemeanor in 2019. This is despite the fact that some experts believe it can be just as psychologically damaging as sexual abuse that takes place in person.

“Some will come forward and say [cyber flashing] is harmless,” said Durham Law School professor Clare McGlynn, an expert in image-based sexual abuse. HuffPost. “Everyone struggles with the fact that it’s not face-to-face, but you can’t categorize sexual offenses like that. The harm caused by sexual offenses is so great that different forms of offenses can have the same impact on different people. »

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