Instagram have announced they will be taking new measures to help combat abuse on its platform, following a number of incidents which have seen high-profile stars racially targeted on social media.
Manchester United trio Axel Tuanzebe, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have all spoken out on the racist abuse they have received via social media in recent weeks, whilst Chelsea defender’s Reece James and Antonio Rudiger have also been targeted.
The latter revealed he had been subjected to ‘intense’ racial abuse following the sacking of Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge amid unsubstantiated suggestions the centre-back had played a role in the manager’s departure.
Lauren James – the sister of Reece and a footballer for Manchester United’s women’s side – also called on social media giants to do more after suffering vile abuse via direct messages.
Instagram have now responded to the calls for greater action to be taken and have announced new measures will be put into place, targeting direct messages and removing any accounts who spread hateful and discriminatory content.
Speaking to the PA news agency content policy manager, Fadzai Madzingira, said: “I am horrified that they have to deal with that sort of abuse and as a company we take it very seriously.
“We’ve always had rules around people who abuse our community standards in Instagram direct messaging, specifically.
“Currently we will set a specific ban or what we call a block for a set amount of time when someone violates those rules and we extend that time should they continue to do so.
“What we’re announcing today is that we’re taking tougher measures on people who violate those rules in Instagram direct messaging, so instead of just extending the time, we’ll be removing the accounts altogether.
“That allows us to ensure that we have a lower tolerance for that sort of abuse in direct messaging and we’ll be closing those accounts more quickly in Instagram direct messaging than anywhere else on the platform.”
Instagram – which has been owned by Facebook since 2012 – also revealed they had removed 6.5m abusive messages between July and September of last year with 95% having been discovered before it was reported.
It will be hoped the latest measures can help diminish the spread of online abuse in the continued fight against racism and other forms of discrimination.