Instagram has always been all or nothing when it comes to boundary-pushing photos and videos: either they made it through the company’s censors, or they got removed from the service. But that’s about to change.
Starting soon, the app will begin blurring out photos and videos that contain “sensitive” content. If someone reports a post and Instagram’s moderation team agrees that it’s “sensitive,” the image will appear blurred out and with a warning on top of it reading: “This photo contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing.” You’ll have to tap a button before seeing the post.
Instagram provided some clarity on what qualifies as “sensitive” in emails to The Verge. The company said that, at first, it’ll primarily be focused on posts that depict violence. “Examples include animal rights groups that share content to expose animal testing conditions or animal abuse, or content that raises awareness of humanitarian crises around the world (famine, impact of war on local communities),” the company wrote.
But the addition of post blurring won’t change what Instagram allows users to post — everything that was banned before is still banned now; it’s just that some content will be subject to a warning screen.
As for whether this could expand to sexually explicit posts in the future, Instagram didn’t rule it out. “Over time we will explore expanding the application of screens into other areas,” the company wrote. It said the goal of blurring posts is to “build a safe environment” for users.
Instagram said the sensitive content warnings will start showing up immediately.
Update March 23rd, 2:18PM ET: This story has been updated to include new details from Instagram on what qualifies as “sensitive” content.