‘Hidden Words:’ Instagram Plans to Automatically Censor Direct Messages

Instagram, the image-sharing platform owned by Facebook (now known as Meta), plans to mandate a previously optional feature that automatically censors a list of prohibited words in direct message (DM) requests and Story replies.

The feature, called “Hidden Words,” was introduced last year, but was not switched on by default. Instagram creators could go into their settings and enable it, but the tool was not in wide use.

Instagram now plans to switch the feature on for all creators, with “anti-discrimination” organizations contributing to the platform’s list of censored terms.

Via Reclaim the Net:

Hidden Words uses a “predefined list of offensive terms” and filters DM requests and Story replies that contain these terms into a separate hidden requests folder. Instagram says it worked with “leading anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organizations” to develop the list of terms.

Users of Hidden Words can also create their own list of custom words, phrases, or emojis that they want filtered from DM requests and Story replies. However, the predefined list of terms that was developed by Instagram and the anti-discrimination and anti-bullying organizations isn’t revealed to users.

Instagram said that it would also be expanding its Hidden Words filtering to “spot and hide more intentional misspellings of offensive terms, for instance, if someone uses a ‘1’ instead of an ‘i.’”

In addition to the word-filtering tool, Instagram also plans to expand “nudges,” which warn users when they are about to reply to a message or a comment that the platform’s systems consider to be offensive.

The platform also plans to expand the block feature, allowing users to block not just individual accounts, but other accounts operated by the blocked individual.