Instagram announced it would expand its comment-control filter to an additional four languages this week. This is an effort by the company to keep the platform a safe and positive place for self-expression.
The filter was initially launched in English in June, and allows users to choose who can comment on their posts. Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram, posted on Tuesday that the filter will add Arabic, French, German and Portuguese.
But not everyone is happy about this addition. Some social media users question whether the comment-controls are an infringement on people's freedom of speech.
"You are limiting someone's ability to talk about things on a certain post. Or if someone were to make a controversial comment, you'd expect somebody else to be able to argue and talk back because it's about discussion in the end," says Piril Nergis, a freshman majoring in electrical engineering at USC.
Other students argue that tech companies have a responsibility to protect their communities from offensive comments and harassment.
Tam Do, a postdoctorate in mathematics, says, "It's a weird thing … you're almost asking a company to police society. But when everyone socializes on this, and you have people doing terrible things [like] committing suicide due to comments on social media, I think they have a responsibility to do something."
"People have been immensely harassed by damaging behaviors that we see in some of these platforms," says Amara Aguilar, an associate professor in digital journalism at USC's Annenberg School. She thinks it's extremely important for tech companies to take appropriate measures toward ensuring people's safety on their platforms.
Social media's role of creating a platform for public dialogue is growing rapidly. So the challenge of protecting users while honoring the First Amendment.
"It's really important to balance people's safety without crossing that line of censorship and also protecting people's freedoms of speech," Aguilar says.