Instagram Developing ‘Nudity Protection’ Feature to Block Unsolicited Nude Photos in DMs

Instagram is working on a way to let users block unsolicited nude photos that they’re sent via direct messages — using a “nudity protection” filter to screen out and hide such pics.

The social media giant confirmed the development of the feature but did not provide a timeline for when it would become available. “We’re working closely with experts to ensure these new features preserve people’s privacy, while giving them control over the messages they receive,” a spokesperson for Meta, Instagram’s parent company, said in a statement.

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According to Instagram, the “nudity protection” feature will be optional. It’s similar to Hidden Words, an opt-in feature Instagram launched last year that automatically filters out abusive DM requests based on keywords and diverts them into a hidden folder so users never have to see them.

The company’s confirmation of the feature, as first reported by the Verge, came after app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi posted a screenshot of the forthcoming message-protection features earlier this week on Twitter. The Instagram notice says that “Technology on your device covers photos that may contain nudity in chats. Instagram can’t access the photos.” If the app detects nudity in a DM, Instagram will hide the photos unless a user chooses to view them, according to the screenshot.

A study released in April by nonprofit group Center for Countering Digital Hate analyzed direct messages sent to five high-profile women — including actor Amber Heard, who has been the target of widespread hateful attacks online amid her legal battle with Johnny Depp — and recorded 125 separate examples of image-based sexual abuse. Instagram “failed to act on every single example of image-based sexual abuse 48 hours after the abuse was reported to the platform,” according to the org.

According to a 2020 study from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, nearly 50% of women surveyed said they had ever received an image of male genitalia (aka a “dick pic”).

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