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Instagram to automatically hide 'potentially offensive' comments

Instagram to automatically hide 'potentially offensive' comments
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Instagram said Tuesday that it will start automatically hiding “potentially offensive" comments on the app.

Comments that are similar to those that have been reported will be hidden from users, but users will be allowed to tap "View Hidden Comments." The new function builds on the social media app's filter that allowed users to choose to hide offensive comments.

Instagram also said it is expanding its “nudge warnings” to notify people when they repeatedly attempt to post comments that might be offensive. The warnings pop up for users who try to post a comment that may violate the app’s guidelines.

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Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said it will continue to remove comments that violate its community guidelines.

The new features come as the app's parent company faces increasing scrutiny over its handling of hate speech.

An independent audit released in July criticized Facebook for failing to develop a mechanism to protect civil rights and for taking a hands-off approach when it comes to free speech, even in cases of violent posts. The audit came after a group of high-profile advertisers launched a boycott of the platform and the Democratic National Committee released a memo bashing Facebook.

Amid escalating pressure to rein in hate speech on its platforms, Facebook announced in August it had removed 22.5 million posts containing hate speech in the second quarter of the year, up from the 9.6 million it removed in the first quarter of the year. On Instagram, 3.3 million pieces of hateful content had been removed in the second quarter, up from 808,000 in the prior three months.

The updates announced Tuesday by Instagram were unveiled as part of its participation in National Bullying Prevention Month. The app is also celebrating 10 years since its founding.