A New Instagram Setting Will Help You Filter Out Sensitive Content

Tired of doing double-takes while scrolling? This feature’s for you.

by JR Thorpe
Originally Published: 
Screenshots showing how to use Instagram's Sensitive Content Control setting.

If you’re really not a fan of NSFW or gross-out videos appearing on your Instagram, there’s a new Instagram feature that might stop you from doing a double-take or spitting out your morning coffee while you scroll. Sensitive Content Control is designed to help you filter the images or videos that appear on your Explore feed. The feature is designed to give users more control over stumbling across posts that are technically allowed by Instagram’s community guidelines, but might be upsetting or offensive — things like ~suggestive~ pics or violent videos.

Social media is supposed to be your personal curation of the world around you — but when an intense post shows up on your Explore page, it can be disquieting. “I honestly cannot take it when medical things appear anywhere on my feeds,” Anna, 22, tells Bustle. “Even those pimple popper videos just gross me out and I have to hide my head under a pillow. My girlfriend tried to show me a feel-good post about a cat having surgery and I legit almost fainted.”

Just want to sit down, scroll through Insta and see succulents, dogs in hats, and dogs in hats sitting happily beside succulents? The Sensitive Content Control might be your next stop.

How To Turn On The Sensitive Content Filter

According to Instagram, it’s pretty easy to block out sensitive stuff. Go to your profile, tap on Settings on the upper right-hand corner, then go to Account. You should see a new entry, Sensitive Content Control. Tapping on it will pull up three options: “Allow” permits all sensitive content to appear on your feed, while “Limit,” the default, stops some photos or videos from showing up. “Limit Even More” expands those parameters further, blocking more kinds of potentially upsetting or offensive posts. You can’t pick and choose what kinds of content you’d like to block, though, and users under 18 won’t be, uh, allowed to select Allow.

So what counts as “sensitive content” on Instagram? Sensitive Content Control is actually based on something Instagram already has in place: non-recommended content. These are posts that Instagram technically allows, but doesn’t “recommend” (which means its algorithms don’t put them on feeds to show to new audiences). So posts showing people fighting, poses in see-through clothing, promotions for things like vapes or weight loss supplements, or even vaccine-related misinformation might end up caught in your sensitive content filter. The Guardian reported in 2020 that alongside artificial intelligence, Instagram employs about 15,000 content reviewers worldwide who help determine what’s sensitive and what’s not.

Why Can’t I Control Sensitive Content On Instagram?

Sensitive Content Control isn’t available to everybody yet; The Verge reports that it’s gradually being rolled out across Instagram’s 1 billion users, so you should keep checking your account to see if it’s appeared yet. If you’re not seeing it, restart your phone to see if the app’s settings have shifted; you can also update the app if an update is available.

Set the app to Allow and wondering why your Explore feed isn’t suddenly flooded with X-rated partying and fight club videos? Posts that outright violate Instagram’s Community Guidelines will still be deleted, Instagram has said. That includes anything involving full nudity (though the company says post-mastectomy scars and breastfeeding are exempt), hate speech, organized crime, self-injury, content promoting eating disorders, or graphic violence.

Instagram has faced controversy over its content control features before; they changed their nudity policy around breasts to be less restrictive in 2020, after public pressure from Black plus-sized women who claimed their content was being unfairly removed. And even if your uptight aunt selects Limit Even More on the new setting, Instagram doesn’t guarantee that sensitive content won’t slip through the net. But whether you’d like your social media to include zero butts, some butts, or butts for days, the new content control may help you get a little more control over what you see in that Explore feed.

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