Instagram has partnered online anti-bullying charity The Cybersmile Foundation to launch "Banter or bullying", a campaign aimed at drawing a distinction between online chatter and victimisation.
Designed to coincide with Anti-Bullying Week (11-15 November), the activity is being supported by comedian Mo Gilligan as well as social media influencers Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella) and Chessie King, all of whom will be discussing their own experiences over the course of this week.
There is often a fine line between online banter and bullying, according to Cybersmile. As part of the partnership, the charity conducted research among 3,000 young people aged 13 to 18. It found that 51% think banter can become bullying, 66% have seen a peer upset by so-called banter at least once a month and 47% have been personally upset or insulted by banter.
Instagram has recently launched new tools to help those faced with cyberbullies and those who are in danger of transgressing. The "comment warning" feature alerts users when something they are posting is potentially offensive, while the "restrict" function lets users block comments on their posts from a particular person, making them only visible to that individual.
Kira Wong-O’Connor, Instagram’s UK policy programmes manager, said: "Banter should never be used as an excuse for bullying. We’re working hard to give people greater power to tackle bullying behaviour on Instagram, whether that’s restricting a bully from seeing when you’re online or giving you the option to post Stories to close friends only. This Anti-Bullying Week, we’d encourage parents and teens to explore how our anti-bullying tools can help keep their experience on Instagram positive."
Dan Raisbeck, co-founder of Cybersmile, said that too many people are "on the receiving end of bullying which is being masked as banter". He added: "This happens online and offline, and the two cannot be treated in isolation. We urge people to think about when they are overstepping the mark. By talking openly about this issue, we can help ensure that banter is kept safe from the bullies."