Instagram unveils new features for reducing hate and abuse on trending posts, and more

Instagram has announced a trio of new features designed to further reduce abusive content on its platform, including a global rollout of Hidden Words, a new Limits feature and much stronger warnings when trying to post comments that the algorithm flags as potentially offensive.


  • If you go viral, you can limit comments and DM requests
  • Hidden Words automatically block offensive content
  • Stronger warnings when posting insulting comments

A white Instagram logo set against a colorful gradient background

New Instagram protections for trending posts

Instagram announced the new features to combat abuse on its platform via a blog post.

  • Limits: Restrict comments and DMs on popular posts
  • Hidden Words: This lets you filter abusive DM request
  • Stronger warnings: Displayed when posting offensive comments

With these changes, Instagram hopes to make the platform a safer place for everyone while reducing harassing, racist, homophobic and sexist content in comments and DM requests.

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Introducing Instagram Limits

Available starting today, the new Limits feature was designed to permit Instagram creators to hide comments and DM requests from people who don’t follow them or just recently started following them. This usually happens when one of your posts suddenly goes viral.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri:

Creators also tell us they don’t want to switch off comments and messages completely. They still want to hear from their community and build those relationships. Limits allows you to hear from your long-standing followers, while limiting contact from people who might only be coming to your account to target you.

Instagram developed the feature following an influx of racist comments targeting UK footballers after the recent Euro 2020 final. Internal research informed Instagram that oftentimes negativity towards public figures comes from people who don’t actually follow them or who have only recently followed them and who simply pile on in the moment.

Three iPhone screenshots, left to right: Instagram privacy settings, Instagram Limits and settings for the Limits feature
Image credit: Instagram

“Limits allows you to hear from your long-standing followers while limiting contact from people who might only be coming to your account to target you,” Mosseri noted.

You must manually turn on the Limits feature in your Instagram privacy settings.

Hidden Words roll out globally

With Hidden Words, you can filter out any abusive messages in your DM requests that contain specific words, phrases and emoji that you’ve chosen. Any requests matching your listed words are automatically placed in a hidden folder, where you’ll also find requests that Instagram has flagged as potentially spammy or low-quality.

This feature saw a limited release in a few countries earlier this year. According to Instagram, Hidden Words will be available for everyone globally by the end of August 2021.

Stronger warnings on offensive comments

If you try to post a comment on someone’s post that could be viewed as potentially offensive, Instagram will put up a warning. Ignoring the warning, you make a second or third attempt at posting the offensive comment. This will typically yield a stronger-worded prompt. Starting today, however, Instagram will show this stronger message the first time.

An iPhone screenshot showing Instagram's warning when attempting to post a potentially offensive comment
Image credit: Instagram

According to the company:

For example, in the last week we showed warnings about a million times per day on average to people when they were making comments that were potentially offensive. Of these about 50 pecent of the times the comment was edited or deleted by the user based on these warnings.

Other harassment protections on Instagram

Aside from the newly announced anti-hate features, Instagram in the past few months has been stepping up various protections against harassment and abuse. For instance, Instagram now defaults all newly created accounts by users younger than 16 to private.