2 minutes reading time (328 words)

Instagram has a massive harassment problem

Instagram has a massive harassment problem Anthony Quintano, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/quintanomedia/34066749252
When Brandon Farbstein first joined Instagram in 2014, he was 14 and optimistic. Farbstein was born with a rare form of dwarfism, and he wanted to use the photo-sharing site to educate people about his condition—to, as he told me, "show people a glimpse into my life and inspire people."

Soon enough, though, the hateful messages started coming: death threats, expletive-laden comments about his appearance, worse. A meme page put his face on Hitler's body. Multiple accounts popped up with the explicit purpose of taunting him. His house was swatted. When he does a live video, the insults float onscreen, fast and furious. "It's been hard to keep my composure," Farbstein told me. After trolls started posting pictures of him in the hallways at his high school, he started to fear for his safety. Eventually, he left and finished high school online.

"My entire experience of high school was completely ruined by Instagram harassment," Farbstein said. "It's draining, it's anxiety producing. I'm used to people calling me names, but it's when people say that they're going to kill me or come find my family that really gets me in a sense of pure terror. Really nothing can prevent or get in the way of that taking over your thoughts and emotions."

Farbstein has tried to make the harassment stop. He said he's filed numerous reports through Instagram's internal reporting tool, but the company takes days to address them, if it does at all. Most of the time he simply deletes the messages and comments himself. "The reporting system is almost like it's not there sometimes," Farbstein said. "You want it to end, but you also know that nothing is going to happen if it takes months and months for your report to go through. It produces more fear and anxiety ... than whatever's posted."

The harassment, he said, has escalated sharply over the past year. "Instagram is the No. 1 platform that I experience hate on," he said.

Read more (The Atlantic)

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