In 2015 I did an article about hashtags and how they connect to groups and feeds. I did this to help parents understand the negative and harmful communities on Instagram. That year there were millions of posts from the #suicide and millions from #cutting, #depressed and so on. I was saddened that there wasn’t a single gate to the explicit photos and shocking handles that our kids were exposed to. I recently updated that article (Where Hashtags Lead) and was happy to see that Instagram set up a warning before directly entreating into the #. When you search #suicide, (which by the way is up to 7,177,663 posts now), you will get a pop-up saying, posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage
behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death. “If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.”

Instagrams Efforts

If they choose, they can still go directly into the posts and deeper into the potentially harmful communities

I was thrilled to learn that Instagram is taking the lead to develop a “wellbeing team”. They announced that Ameet Ranadive, the former vice president of product at Twitter, will be the Wellbeing Products Director.

I will be leading the Wellbeing team, which helps promote positive behavior on Instagram and protects the community from bad behavior and content. Here’s an article in Wired that talks more about the work from this team: https://t.co/LihkvZ4ZoE

— Ameet Ranadive (@ameet) December 8, 2017

In his words, he says,“We’re building products to foster positive behavior within the Instagram community, and protect members from bad behavior and content.” –Randavi via Linkedin.

Well done Instagram!

We have created a beast with social media and this is causing extreme emotional damage to so many of us, especially our kids. We are in uncharted territory and we didn’t know what insecurities, anxieties, depression would be caused by social media until now and what we’ve seen is impacting our youth and our culture in horrific ways. When smoking came out, everyone smoked not knowing that it caused cancer. Now that we know the harmful side of apps like Instagram it’s up to us to make the change.

It often feels as a parent and youth advocate that we are in an uphill battle. Trying to get the word out and be heard that it’s not okay that there are more than 4,400 suicides each year and of those, more than half are due to bullying and in most cases cyberbullying. It feels like some of the weight is lifted hearing that one of the causes is going to be a part of the solution.

“Making the community a safer place, a place where people feel good, is a huge priority for Instagram, I would say one of the top priorities.” – Eva Chen head of fashion partnerships at Instagram shared at a CornellTech event. Via quartzy.qz.com

The job posting is fresh:

“Instagram is looking for a strategic Wellbeing Program Lead to define the strategy and plan for our Well-Being Program. Our goal is to foster the safest, kindest, and most supportive community.” This is the job description for the recent job posing on Instagram for Wellbeing Program Lead.

And the announcement has been trickling out, so my message to Instagram is thank you and please follow through. I have reported inappropriate accounts to Instagram before, and received the message that the accounts met Instagrams standards and guidelines. So what I am wondering is what measuring stick will the wellbeing team be using? Who are the psychologists, youth advocates and parents that they are consulting with to make sure that this is a productive effort? Instagram has not come out with this information yet. I will be hopeful that they will take the necessary efforts to lead the way in the tech world to ensure a positive and beneficial online community. Teens have also used the platform for good, (especially over the last year) to be heard, spread love and hope, so if and when Instagram takes the lead to filter out the rest of the muck, I hope that the other social medias will follow close behind.

 

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Parents and youth workers what are your thoughts? Will this help and what do you feel the starting point should be?

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