How to Filter, Block, and Report Harmful Content on Social Media

Social media privacy and safety tools update constantly and while this is a good place to start for ideas, the best place to learn about how to enact features is on each social media platform. Here are some tips for filtering, reporting, and blocking harmful content or users on social media platforms.

Instagram

Filter comments:

  • Block comments from specific individuals: This will hide the comments of a blocked individual from your posts. The blocked individual will be the only one able to see their own comments.
    • Go to your profile and select the menu button (3 horizontal lines) > Click Settings > Privacy > Comments > Select “Block Comments From” and enter the username of any users that you do not want to comment on your posts or stories.
  • Hide generally offensive comments: This will hide comments on posts, stories, and live videos which Instagram deems to be inappropriate or offensive.
    • Go to your profile and select the menu button (3 horizontal lines) > Click Settings > Privacy > Comments > Use the toggle to turn on “Hide Offensive Comments.”
  • Filter specific words or phrases: This will hide comments that contain any of the specific words or phrases you have chosen to filter out.
    • Go to your profile and select the menu button (3 horizontal lines) > Click Settings > Privacy > Comments > Use the toggle to turn on “Manual Filter” > Enter any words or phrases that you do not want to see, separating words and phrases with a comma.
    • You may also select “Filter Most Reported Words,” which will hide comments that contain words which have been commonly reported on your posts and stories.

Restrict an account:

  • Restricting an account will protect you from unwanted interactions without having to block or unfollow the individual. This setting will make it so only you and the individual can see their comments on your posts. They will also be unable to see when you’re online or when you have read their messages. The individual will not know if you have restricted them.
    • Through settings: Click Settings > Privacy > “Restricted Accounts.”
    • Through comments: Swipe left on a comment from the individual you want to restrict > Click the Exclamation Point Button > Select “Restrict.”
    • Through their profile: Click the menu button (...) in the top right corner of their profile > Select “Restrict.”

Filter your feed: 

  • Mute an individual:
    • The mute feature is to stop seeing posts from an individual whom you follow without having to block or unfollow them.
      • To mute their post: Select the menu button (...) in the top right corner above their post > Select “Mute.”
      • To mute their profile: Click the “Following” button with the dropdown arrow > Select “Mute” > Select either “Stories,” “Posts,” or both.
  • Block an individual:
    • Blocking an individual will keep them from being able to see your posts or interact with you. You will no longer be able to see their profile either.
      • To block an individual: Go to the profile of the individual you want to block > Click the menu (...) button in the top right corner > Select “Block.”
  • Report content:
    • Reporting content will send a report to an Instagram team to review the content and determine whether or not it goes against Community Guidelines. The content will still be publicly viewable until it is determined to go against the Community Guidelines. This review process can take anywhere from several days to weeks.
      • Report a post: Select the menu (...) button > Select “Report” > Choose if the post is “Spam” or “Inappropriate” to submit.
      • Report an individual’s profile: Select the menu (...) button > Select “Report” > Choose if the profile is “Spam” or “Inappropriate” to submit.
      • Report a comment: Swipe left on the comment > Select the exclamation mark button > Select “Report This Comment” > Choose if the comment is “Spam” or “Inappropriate” to submit.
      • Report a direct message: Select the Information (i) button > Select “Report” > Choose if the message is “Spam” or “Inappropriate” to submit.

Twitter

Filter sensitive content:

Note on the sensitivity filter: Using this filter on Twitter may prevent posts that you do want to see from being shown as well.

  • This method will hide posts that the user has said may display sensitive content or that have been reported as having sensitive content.
    • To filter content: Go to Twitter.com on desktop > Select the menu (...) button > Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Scroll down to the “Safety” section > Deselect “Display media that may contain sensitive content.”
  • This method will keep posts that may contain sensitive content from appearing in your search results.
    • To filter content: Go to Twitter.com on desktop > Select the menu (...) button > Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > Scroll down to the “Safety” section > Search filters > Select “Hide sensitive content.”

Filter specific content and triggers:

  • This is the way to enter any trigger or content warnings that you want to avoid. For example, you could enter “TW Sexual Assault” to avoid content that contains a trigger warning for sexual assault.
    • Filter through desktop: Select the menu (...) button > Content preferences > Scroll down to the “Safety” section > Muted > Muted words > Select the + sign to add any words or phrases that you do not want to see on Twitter > Select a timeline for how long you want this content muted.
    • Filter through mobile: Swipe to reveal the menu panel on the left > Select “Settings and privacy” > Content preferences > Muted > Muted words > Select “Add” to add any words or phrases that you do not want to see on Twitter > Select a timeline for how long you want this content muted.

Filter individuals:

  • Mute an individual: This will keep you from seeing content from the individual.
    • Go to the profile of the individual you want to mute > Select the menu (...) button > Select “Mute @username.”
  • Block an individual: This will keep you from seeing content from the individual and keep the individual from being able to see and interact with your profile.
    • Go to the profile of the individual you want to block > Select the menu (...) button > Select “Block @username.”

Report content:

Reporting content on Twitter will send a report to a Twitter team to review and determine if it complies with Twitter policies. After submitting a report, Twitter will send a notification within 24 hours confirming receipt of the report. If Twitter determines that the content is in violation of their policies, they will take action ranging from a warning to suspending the account. Twitter will send a follow-up notification once a decision has been made. The original reported content will be replaced with a notice stating that you reported it. You may click through and view the Tweet should you wish. It will still be publicly viewable unless and until found against Twitter policies.

  • Report a post: Select the dropdown arrow icon > Report > Select “It’s abusive or harmful” > Select how the post is harmful > Twitter may also ask you to select additional posts from the individual’s profile which engage in abusive or harmful behaviors; you can skip this step by selecting “Skip” or add any Tweets which fit the report > Check or uncheck whether you want updates from Twitter to include the original posts.
  • Report an individual’s account: Select the menu (...) button > Report > Select “It’s abusive or harmful” > Select how the account is harmful > Twitter may also ask you to select additional posts from the individual’s profile which engage in abusive or harmful behaviors; you can skip this step by selecting “Skip” or add any Tweets that fit the report > Check or uncheck whether you want updates from Twitter to include the original posts.
  • Report a direct message: Select the information (i) button > Report @username > Select how the message is harmful > Twitter may also ask you to select additional messages from the conversation which engage in abusive or harmful behaviors; you can skip this step by selecting “Skip” or add any messages which fit the report > Check or uncheck whether you want updates from Twitter to include the original posts.

Facebook

Note: Facebook has few options for filtering sensitive content. They operate by a system of individual users reporting posts or by messaging the poster and asking them to remove harmful posts.

Filter individuals:

  • Unfriend an individual: Unfriending is a way to remove a person from your friend’s list. You will be unable to see any of the non-public components of their profile and they will be unable to see any of the non-public components of your own profile.
    • From the individual’s profile, select the “Friends” button (silhouette with check mark) > “Unfriend.”
  • Unfollow an individual: Unfollowing is a way to stay friends with an individual, but to no longer see their posts in your newsfeed.
    • From the individual’s profile, select the “Friends” button (silhouette with check mark) > “Unfollow.”

Block an individual:

  • Blocking an individual will keep them from being able to see or interact with your profile or send you friend or message requests. You will also be unable to see the profile of an individual you have blocked.
    • Through desktop: Go to the “Account” dropdown menu > Settings & Privacy > Settings > On the menu in the left column, select “Blocking” > Enter the name of any individuals you wish to block under “Block users”
    • Through mobile: Select the menu button at the bottom right > Scroll down to “Settings & Privacy” > Blocking > Add to blocked list > Enter the name or email address of the individual you wish to block.
    • Through their profile: Select the menu (...) button on their profile > “Block.”

Restrict an individual:

  • You may restrict an individual whom you are friends with to keep them from seeing any of your posts that are not public. You will still be friends and they will still be able to see any posts that are public or that they are tagged in.
    • Go to the individual’s profile > Select the “Friends” button (silhouette with check mark) > Edit Friend List > Select “Restricted.”

Report content:

Reporting content will send a report to a Facebook team to review the content and determine whether or not it goes against Community Standards. The content will still be publicly viewable until it is determined to go against the Community Standards. This review process can take anywhere from several days to weeks.

  • Report an individual’s post: Select the menu (...) button in the upper right corner > Select “Find support or report post” > Select any categories that the post contains that go against Community Standards > Select “Next” to submit.
  • Report a specific comment:
    • Through mobile: Hold down the comment until a menu of options appears > Select “Find Support or Report Comment” > Select any categories that the post contains which go against Community Standards > Select “Next” to submit.
    • Through desktop: Select the menu (...) button on the right side of the comment > Select “Find Support or Report Comment” > Select any categories that the post contains which go against Community Standards > Select “Next” to submit.
  • Report a private message: Go to the specific conversation to report > “Privacy and Support” > “Something’s Wrong” > Select a category and click “Next” > Select “Send Feedback” to submit.

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