With the rise of social media came the rise of trolls, obvs. And no matter how many times people scoff, clap back, and put haters in their rightful place, people are still going to do it. As T-Swift would say, "Haters gonna hate." (Example A: All these celebs that gave the middle finger to body-shamers.)
But just because ignorant humans feel the need to put their unwanted opinions on blast doesn't mean the rest of us want to just to sit around and take it on our own posts. That's why more and more platforms are trying to tackle the Internet evil. How? Well, for one, YouTube just announced a bunch of new comment features that will help users better moderate negative interactions on their channel.
If you're an avid social media consumer (or creator) you might know that the YouTube comment section can be particularly vicious. Thankfully, YouTube is continually trying to battle against that. They already rolled out blacklist words and phrases (where comments with certain words or phrases are held for your review and approval before being published) and allow you to block users who continually lash out. And their latest beta feature uses an algorithm to detect particularly inappropriate or offensive comments and holds them before you make the final decision whether to approve, hide, or report them.
YouTube isn't the only one making this change. In September, Instagram rolled out a feature (tested first by T-Swift herself, of course) that allows you to prevent negative comments from appearing by creating your own personal keyword blacklist. (How to: Tap the gear icon to find it, then add whatever words you'd like, or pick from some suggested by Instagram.) And it's not just for social media: Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation even created a Chrome extension that basically acts as spell-check for trolls, warning users that what they're saying isn't nice.
The sad part, though? You will never be able to stop terrible people from saying terrible things on the Internet. It's hard to believe that the same place that gives us goats doing yoga and hilarious workout GIFs is the same place where people comment things like "f*ck me," "spank," and "rape," on a fitness YouTube channel—but that's the way of the Internet. In fact, those are actual phrases that powerlifter Meg Gallagher, aka @megsquats, has needed to blacklist from her own YouTube channel (and those phrases aren't even the worst of it). Luckily, these new tools are helping people like Gallagher who create meaningful content keep the focus on their message.
"I don't block conversation about controversial things like performance enhancing drugs, disagreements, or someone's opinion on my body, but the second someone writes hate speech, threats, or something too graphic, I feel like the conversation can't really evolve into anything helpful for anyone," she says about filtering the comments on her YouTube channel. About 2 percent of the comments on her videos fit into this seriously disturbing category, which is crazy because this powerlifter is all about spreading self-love and body empowerment. Gallagher says she wants her community to feel welcome and safe on her channel—not intimidated or threatened by negative users, and that these new tools are helping her make sure that happens.
"I allow people to comment on my lifting form, drug accusations, program philosophy, or my body when they come from an inquisitive or conversational place," she says. "If you bring your idea or thought to the table, it deserves to be there. It's okay to disagree with me. I wouldn't allow someone in my gym who was blatantly and verbally racist, sexist, or hateful, so I don't allow them in my comments section either." Preach, girl.