If you've ever scrolled through Instagram and seen an unsettling post from a family member or friend, and felt unsure about what to do, Instagram is now making helping that little bit easier.
The app has just rolled a new "anonymous report" function, whereby you can anonymously report a photo and the user who posted the photo will receive a message that says: "Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we'd like to help." The user will then be shown a series of options, such as a helpline number (relevant to the user's location), talking to a friend or getting support, all of which can be accessed through the app itself.
The prompt screen that shows up for a user when a post of theirs has been anonymously reported
Instagram's chief operating officer Marne Levine told Seventeen, "We listen to mental health experts when they tell us that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress. At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don't know how best to reach out. These tools are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you, at a moment when you might most need that reminder."
The introduction of this function isn't the first step Instagram has taken to help give people support. It has also banned several dangerous hashtags, like #thinspo, which when searched brings users to a page with no results. The new function will also target those who type in any hashtags related to self-injury and take them to the same support page. The company created the support page with the help of mental health experts, groups and real people with experience with forms of self-harm, to develop the right language for the prompt.
The screen that shows up when a user searches a dangerous hashtag
We're all for bringing a little humanity back into cyberspace.