Instagram's new rules to ban trolls have the same old problem

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Instagram's new rules to ban trolls have the same old problem
Instagram has plans to implement new regulations to block fake accounts and trolls on the photo sharing platformMaxPixel

  • Instagram is looking to standardize its regulations in terms of banning users from its photo-sharing platform.
  • The number of violations that each user is allowed will no longer depend on the frequency of their posts.
  • This may catch a few extremist accounts — but is hardly effective to counter trolls.
  • There’s a chance that such regulations may even backfire.
Social networks across the board are increasing their vigilance around what gets shared on their platform. Facebook-owned Instagram, for example, just announced that it’s working on new guidelines for removing accounts from its network.

It may be a step in the right direction. But, there’s little evidence that it will be able to effectively combat trolling, the social media equivalent of guerrilla warfare. .

Instagram's new rules to ban trolls have the same old problem

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Normally, after one or two warnings, the user is locked out of Instagram for 24 hours, and then the ban is auto lifted.

It is possible for repeat offenders to remain on the platform. Being blocked from the platform temporary counts as one violation.

Until now, the number of violations that could get a user kicked off Instagram for good, depended on how frequently a user posts on the platform.

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But, with the new policy, every user will be held to the same standard — adhering to the same number of violations.

Not fool-proof

First off, Instagram isn’t disclosing how many violations across how long a time period can get a user banned permanently. The company says that it doesn’t want users with wrong intentions taking advantage of the rules.

And, while the new rules may be able to catch a few extremist accounts in the act — like conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, and right-wing extremist accounts of Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer — it hardly seems to be a fool-proof method to catch haters and trolls who lurk in the shadows.
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Multiple users have gone on record to say that removing or banning trolls only means that a new account will find its way into the newsfeed within a couple of days, if not hours. This is despite introducing new features to combat the problem.

Even the guy who helped take the first picture of the black hole isn’t spared, according to The Verge — that’s just how troll farms work. And, they’re a powerful tool for political manipulation as demonstrated by Russian trolls during US Presidential Elections in 2016.

Advantage Trolls

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The new regulations could, in fact, work in the favour of trolls who want a particular user off the platform. They could file multiple abuse reports on a user. Since Instagram doesn’t issue a warning before blocking an account and neither does it explain why an account was blocked to begin with — well-meaning users could be locked out for good with no recourse.

When it comes to restricting extremist accounts, the Washington Examiner claims that taking away the user’s social outlet only makes them even more dangerous.

“Bad ideas are legitimized when they’re suppressed. To defeat bad ideas, we must actually engage our ideological opponents,” the article said.

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