Right now, if you want control over who follows you on Instagram, you’ve got one choice: Go private. Taking your account private keeps people from following you, but not everybody has the option. If you’re a professional photographer or an entertainer using it for marketing purposes you just have to put up with jerks — as a visit to the feeds of Kim Kardashian or Emily Ratajkowski reveals.
Instagram, however, might have decided public accounts deserve a little more control beyond just deploying the mute button. According to Engadget, the platform is testing a tool where you can remove followers from a public account. Nobody gets an alert they’ve been removed and it won’t block them from your feed completely, unlike blocking them. They just can’t comment or otherwise act like a butthead (so they’ll probably figure out they’ve been booted soon enough). And, unlike the block-then-unblock trick, they can’t just refollow you and start misbehaving again.
It’s not perfect; if somebody is the target of a harassing ex or is dealing with another potentially dangerous situation, they still have to go private. But if you just simply don’t want to hear from randos anymore, it’ll do the trick. It’s fair to argue that Instagram is, to some degree, a public space, and the ethics of how we interact with others on social media, let alone passively engage with the photos we find of them, are tricky — especially as a person becomes more visible, thereby becoming a target.
By the same token, if somebody walked up to you and said half the things a famous Instagrammer sees on their feed every day to your face, in public or private, you’d probably deck them. If we wouldn’t take it yelled in our faces, why should we have to put up with it online? Anything that restores a measure of control to social media users is, in the long run, a good thing, and one everybody deserves.