All the Instagram features available to keep you safe from online trolls

A creator's guide to keeping yourself safe on Instagram.
All the Instagram features available to keep you safe from online trolls


TW: self-injury

Being a creator has its perks, like being your own boss and collaborating with amazing brands. But it also has its own challenges such as dealing with internet trolls.

Internet trolls are social media users who intentionally bully others online. They typically leave offensive and hurtful comments on posts, send negative and uncalled-for DMs, and deliberately provoke hateful interactions. 

Creators who are regularly in the spotlight are highly susceptible to the impact of trolls. Someone who is systematically attacked by internet trolls can experience a decline in their mental health and well-being, suffer from sleep disruption, and feel the effects of lowered self-esteem.

Social platforms like Instagram have acknowledged the responsibility they have to protect users from the harmful effects of abusive content and behaviors. In an official statement, Instagram has reaffirmed their commitment ‘to protecting from bullying on Instagram’.

Let’s unpack the top safety features on Instagram aimed at protecting creators from online trolls and learn how to use them.

14 Instagram features available to keep you safe from online trolls

1. Hidden words 

One of the most intelligent safety features that Instagram has rolled out is ‘hidden words’. This feature allows you to toggle on tools that will hide comments and message requests that Instagram deems potentially offensive. 

This feature also allows you to create a custom list of trigger words and phrases so that any DMs or comments featuring those words and phrases are automatically hidden from view.

Creators like Love Island star, Shaughna Phillips recently opened up about how helpful this feature has been to limit targeted abuse. Shaughna was able to filter out hurtful comments and DMs that mentioned the word ‘legs’, blocking out the trolls who were targeting her appearance when she came out of the Love Island villa.

When used in this way, the ‘hidden words’ feature can have a positive impact on mental health by allowing creators to use the platform without having to worry about targeted abuse.

How to find this feature: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Hidden words.

2. Turn off or limit comments 

Comments can be a source of negative engagement, and sometimes when a post is controversial or gains negative traction, it can spiral out of control.

Limiting comments means you can pick who has the ability to leave comments on your posts including: everyone, the people you follow, your followers, or the people you follow and their followers. You also have the ability to block comments from specific accounts.

How to find these features: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Comments.

Turning off comments means you can stop commenting on a post altogether, giving you the opportunity to express yourself without outside commentary.

How to find these features: 

Before a post is live: Before clicking ‘Share’ on a new post, click Advanced settings > Toggle on Turn off comments.

After a post is live: Profile > Click on a post > Click the three dots in the top right corner > Select Turn off commenting.

3. Restrict users

Restricting someone allows you to remove their comments from public view, while keeping their comment on their profile view. When you restrict an individual, you choose whether to approve comments they make. 

They also won’t be able to see when you’ve read their DMs, or when you’re active on Instagram. The best part? They’ll never know you restricted them.

How to find this feature: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Restricted accounts.

4. Limit unwanted interactions

With the Limits feature, you can limit unwanted comments and message requests from people you don’t trust, like accounts that aren’t following you or recent followers. You can select how long they are limited for and their interactions with you will be hidden until you approve them.

Limiting is similar to restricting, but it helps you manage harassment from groups of accounts rather than just individual accounts.

How to find this feature: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Limits.

5. Muted accounts

Other users getting you down? Sometimes our mental health isn’t just affected by what people post on our profile or in our DMs. It can also be negatively impacted by viewing what other users are posting.

When you find that you’re comparing yourself to every other creator – or you just don’t want to see someone’s posts anymore but don’t want to unfollow them – you can mute their profile. This allows you to continue following them, without being constantly exposed to their content. 

How to find this feature: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Muted accounts.

6. Hide users from viewing your Story

Do you have a follower who consistently replies to your Stories, making you feel a bit uncomfortable?

In these cases, hiding your Story is a great tool that allows you to single out individual profiles that you want to remove from viewing your Story without them knowing. Genius!

How to find this feature: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Story > Hide story from. 

7. Close friends on Stories 

Want to reveal a more intimate side, but only to a few users? The Close Friends Story feature is ideal for creators who want to protect their privacy, while also maintaining the connection with their genuine friends and followers.

This feature is also ideal for users who are posting about their location, without having to worry about revealing their whereabouts to thousands of people.

How to find this feature: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Story > Close friends.

8. Report content 

Sometimes, we see content on Instagram that is offensive. Reporting content helps the platform filter out dangerous and offensive content, and is a great tool to protect the wider community.

If you see content that you believe goes against Instagram’s community guidelines, report it. Instagram will take your feedback into consideration and then give you the option to block or restrict the creator of the post so you never have to see their content again.

How to find this feature: On the post you want to report, click the three dots in the top right corner > Report > Select why you’re reporting the post.

9. Comment warning for users 

A great feature that Instagram has recently launched is the comment warning that pops up when something suspicious is detected. The warning recommends you don’t post a comment, based on the type of content it’s deemed to be.

When something is inappropriate, offensive or dangerous, this box will pop up and remind the user that they can be removed for posting this kind of content.

There’s no toggle to turn on for this feature. Instagram will just automatically warn users when they’re about to comment something potentially inappropriate, offensive or dangerous on your posts.

10. Tag and mention controls 

Don’t want everyone on Instagram to have the ability to tag or mention you in a post or Story? No dramas. You can remove this capability quickly and easily from inside the app.

This allows you to control who tags and mentions you, or remove the ability altogether so that no one has access to tag or mention you. 

How to find these features: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Posts > Allow Tags From and select which option you want.

Profile > Settings > Privacy > Mentions > Allow @mentions From and select which option you want.

11. Content advisory warnings

Instagram manages the ability for users to view unsafe content that has slipped through their community guidelines by adding warnings for users trying to search for harmful content. 

For example, if someone is searching for self-injury content, Instagram will share expert-backed resources that encourage the user to seek help. 

There’s no toggle to turn on for this feature. Instagram will just automatically warn users when they’re searching for harmful content. 

12. Community guidelines

Community guidelines protect the entire Instagram community, and are a reminder of what is and isn’t acceptable.

In line with community guidelines, certain content will be instantly removed or deleted, while repeat offenders may have their entire account disabled.

The community guidelines also limit things like how many comments, likes and follows you can perform during a certain time frame to stop bot and troll accounts from misusing the platform.

Read up on Instagram’s community guidelines.

13. Block accounts

The blocking feature has been around forever. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. 

By blocking someone, you remove all access to your account. To them, it looks like you’ve gone on a little hiatus. Meanwhile, you can continue posting as normal, without having to worry about what they might comment or DM you.

How to find these features: Profile > Settings > Privacy > Blocked accounts.

14. Private account 

For those who want to keep things private, Instagram offers a private account option.

This means you can create content within the safety of your own network, and not have to worry about who views and comments on your posts. 

While this is a great option, many creators want to remain public in order to propel growth and secure brand collaborations.

In these cases, the private profile feature can be used from time to time. Many creators switch to a private account when they want to monitor and limit abuse, and then go public again once their negative engagement has subsided.

However, it’s important to note that switching from a creator account to a private account will affect your insights. 

Where to find this feature: Profile > Settings > Account > Switch account type > Switch to personal account.

If you weren’t already aware before reading this article, it’s clear that Instagram has stepped their game up when it comes to safety controls.

As a creator, educating yourself on these features and how to use them is a great way to stay safe online and protect yourself from those nasty trolls.

Do you also use TikTok? Here 9 TikTok features available to keep you safe from online trolls.

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