A few months ago, Instagram began testing “Restrict,” a feature that lets you shadowban anyone who is bullying you on the platform. After the tests, it has now been rolled out to anyone. “Restrict” allows you to quietly protect your account from bullies, while still keeping an eye on them and take additional actions if you need to.
There are a few ways to restrict someone on Instagram. If they leave you a nasty comment, you can swipe left on the comment and choose “Restrict.” Alternatively, you can do it through the Privacy tab in Settings, or directly on the profile of the user you want to restrict.
So, what happens when you restrict someone? And how is it different from blocking or reporting them? Well, the person you have restricted will still see their comments on your profile, which doesn’t happen when you block them. They can also still post comments to your photos, but you won’t receive any notifications, and only they will be able to see what they commented. You can choose what to do with these comments: you can tap “See Comment” to see them; you can approve them so they’re visible to everyone; you can delete them, or simply ignore them.
Another difference is obvious within direct messaging. When a user you restricted sends you a direct message, it will automatically be moved to Message Request, and you will not receive notifications. You can still view the messages if you like, but the restricted user will not be able to see when you’ve read them, or when you’re active on the platform. Finally, if you want future messages to go straight to your inbox, you can choose to “Unrestrict” the user.
“But why wouldn’t you simply block the jerk who’s leaving you nasty comments?” you may wonder. That’s certainly what I do whenever someone is acting inappropriately, and I believe many of us do. The thing is: it turns out that many people are reluctant to do it. “We’ve heard from young people in our community that they’re reluctant to block, unfollow, or report their bully because it could escalate the situation,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri explained while the feature was still being tested. It could especially be tricky if they interact with the bully in real life. In addition, blocking someone disables you from keeping an eye on the bully. So, the “Restrict” feature deals with these problems. When you restrict someone, they don’t know that they’ve been excluded from your profile. At the same time, you have the choice to still see what they post and take additional actions if it’s necessary.
The “Restrict” feature is the latest of Instagram’s several tools for fighting bullying and harassment. Previously, the platform turned to AI to fight against comment trolls, but it also gave users control over the comments on their posts. All these features are a part of an effort to make Instagram a safer and more enjoyable place for everyone.