Mo Gilligan x The Cybersmile Foundation – What’s banter?

In a digital era in which we live, online bullying is an issue which has affected thousands of young people across the UK. Instagram is committed to leading the industry in the fight against online bullying, and continue to create experiences to meet that commitment.

That’s why Instagram has partnered with The Cybersmile Foundation, an international non-profit organisation providing support for victims of cyberbullying and online hate. As part of the partnership, stand-up comedian Mo Gilligan is helping to lead the campaign.

In conversation with Mo Gilligan, we spoke about what banter really is and it’s really simple. If the other person has stopped laughing, guess what?
It isn’t funny and you should stop at the expense of not insulting the person you’re speaking with.

What happens though if you’re not the one directing the banter and can see the impact it’s having on the person? Step in. That’s all it takes. By re-directing the conversation and highlighting that it’s not a joke, you hold the other person accountable and prevent the scenario from reoccurring.

We learn through communication and actions. If a situation is uncomfortable for you, it makes no sense to put someone else through that too. “Boys will be boys”, “it’s just lad culture”, “she needs to grow thicker skin”, these are all excuses to disguise a toxic environment that can take place at work, in education or with friends.

Dan Raisbeck, Co-founder of Cybersmile explains how his research shows too many young people are on the receiving end of bullying which is being masked as banter. 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 and to challenge others who do so. By talking openly about this issue, we can help ensure that banter is kept safe from the bullies.”

It turns out more than half (51%) of young people (13-18-year-olds) think banter is sometimes used as an excuse for bullying.

  • Two thirds (66%) of young people who have seen a friend left upset or insulted by banter have done so at least once a month – over a third (39%) see this occur weekly.

So how exactly is Instagram taking measures to prevent online bullying and hate?

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Kira Wong O’Connor, EMEA Policy Programmes Manager for Instagram, believes  “banter should never be used as an excuse for bullying. We’re working hard to empower people 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.

Instagram’s seven tips can help change your experience to block out negativity on your account.

  1. Restrict: Restrict empowers you to quietly protect your account while still keeping an eye on the bully.
  2. Comment warning: Do you ever wish someone paused to think before they commented? Our new AI-powered feature notifies people when their comment may be considered offensive before it’s posted, giving them a chance to reflect and chose to not post something unkind or hurtful.
  3. Comment Filter: Are their particular words, phrases or emoji’s which upset you? We have a tool that lets you decide what you don’t want to see – go to your settings and add to your comment filter and you won’t see these come up on your posts again.
  4. Muting: Need a break from someone but don’t want to unfollow or block? The mute feature means you’ll still be following them but lets you decide when to view their content.
  5. Blocking: If you want to prevent all interactions with an account, you can block someone.
  6. Privacy: You can set your privacy any way you like – just want to share your updates with your close friends? Consider turning your account to private, or using the Close Friends tool to share your Stories with a personally curated list of your followers.
  7. Reporting: We’re here to help – let us know if someone is posting abusive or hurtful comments so we can address it.
A final note from Mo –
“Don’t be that person. Be better, do better, and use your platforms to inspire one another.”

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