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Instagram Doesn't Make It Easy To Report Abusive DMs

Just in case you need to.

Posted on October 26, 2017, at 4:37 p.m. ET

At a recent press event, Instagram cofounder and president Kevin Systrom talked about how his impending fatherhood has informed his commitment to curbing abuse on the platform. "We want to build a world where my daughter can grow up and feel safe and not bullied," Systrom said.

The company recently rolled out new features meant to protect users, including more comment moderation options, support for more languages for its AI-powered comment filter, and the ability to allow only the people you follow to comment on your public account.

But while this effort has focused on comments, there's a whole other place where harassment on Instagram often takes place: DMs. But reporting someone who's harassing you in private messages on Instagram is much more complicated than you might expect.

There's no obvious button to report a DM. You can report DMs, but the way you do it works differently than other harassment reporting features on the app. You have to do a "long tap" press over the message, and you'll see two options that pop up.

Press the actual message with your finger, and hold down for a few seconds. You'll see two options pop up — copy and report.


Here are the other ways you might have encountered the "report" function:

1. To report someone's photo you see in your feed, you tap the "..." at the top corner, and the Report option pops up at the bottom.

2. To report a person in general, you tap the "..." at the top corner of their profile page.

3. To report an abusive comment on your own photo, you swipe sideways on the comment, and you get the option to delete it or report it.

4. To report or block a person from inside your DMs, tap the "i" at the top corner (but this will only report their photos, not their messages).

Note that NONE of these four options involve a long press! That's a totally weird different motion.

When I asked my fellow tech reporters here at BuzzFeed News if they could figure out how to report a private message on Instagram, only one out of 12 of them could figure it out. And these are people who are professional technology writers! In theory we're supposed to know this stuff!

In my humble opinion (ok, honestly not THAT humble) Instagram has fallen short of making an intuitive, obvious UI design that helps people report abusive messages.

Instagram does have some logic for this choice. A representative told BuzzFeed News that the reason for this was that the long press is a gesture used in other messaging apps (although it's not used anywhere else in Instagram). The idea was that people using DMs would be familiar with this as a messaging feature. Ok!

So even though the feature for reporting abusive messages isn't new, it's pretty likely you didn't know.

Stay safe out there, people!

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    Katie Notopoulos is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Notopoulos writes about tech and internet culture and is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.

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A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.