Instagram is launching a new feature that is designed to better protect users from unwanted images and videos in DMs, the company announced on Thursday. The official launch comes a few weeks after Instagram began testing the feature.
With this new feature, people looking to send DM requests to people who don’t follow them will face two new restrictions. First, rather than being able to send an unlimited number of DM requests to someone who doesn’t follow you, you will now only be able to send them one message. You will only be able to continue to send them DMs once they accept your request to chat.
Second, DM invites are now limited to text only, which means you can only send images, videos or voice notes to someone who doesn’t follow you after they’ve accepted your request to chat.
Instagram says with these new restrictions, people will no longer receive unwanted images or videos from users they don’t follow, nor will strangers be able to message them repeatedly. The social media giant notes that the new feature will be especially beneficial for women, as they often receive unsolicited nudes in their DMs.
“We want people to feel confident and in control when they open their inbox,” said Cindy Southworth, head of Women’s Safety at Meta, in an emailed statement. “That’s why we’re testing new features that mean people can’t receive images, videos or multiple messages from someone they don’t follow, until they’ve accepted the request to chat. We’re grateful for the feedback we hear from our community — and we’ll keep listening to find ways to help everyone feel safer on Instagram.”
The new DM feature joins Instagram’s existing restrictions that are designed to protect users from abuse and unwanted contact. The app has a “Hidden Words” setting where DM requests containing offensive words, phrases and emojis are automatically sent to a hidden folder. Instagram also has a “Limits” feature that protects users from sudden spikes in unwanted comments or DM requests.
In addition, Instagram features a “Restrict” setting that allows you to keep an eye on a bully in a more subtle way, if you don’t want to outright block them. Once you restrict a user, any comments they leave on your posts will only be visible to them, and they won’t know that no one else can see them. Plus, any DMs they send you will go to your DM requests folder.
Of course, you can also always block someone so they can no longer message you. When you block a user, you have the option to block any other accounts they have or may go on to create to better protect yourself.