Instagram users will now be able to more easily specify their gender identity, after the platform launched a dedicated section on account profiles to share pronouns. The new feature, announced on Tuesday, allows users to share up to four pronouns selected from a pre-approved list of common pronouns including she, he, they, ze and others. The company said users can edit or remove pronouns at any time, and can fill out a form to have a pronoun added if it is not included. Users will also be able to determine if they want pronouns shared with followers only or publicly on Instagram. For users under the age of 18, pronouns will automatically be rendered private.
Many users already used the traditional bio section on Instagram to share pronouns before a dedicated section was introduced, said Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communication at Syracuse University.
“This has been the norm for awhile, so in a sense they are rolling this out slowly,” Grygiel said. “From an inclusion standpoint, this is something all products should be doing.”
Not only should all platforms be including the option to select pronouns, Grygiel said; but all users should be taking advantage of those features.
“For those of us trying to be welcoming and inclusive, this is the best practice for everyone,” they said. “It allows us to build a better community and a better society, when we have conversations like these.”
Dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid have long allowed users to input gender pronouns, and Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has allowed users to select pronouns since 2014. The ride-hailing platform Lyft started to allow riders to share pronouns within the app in 2019. Instagram said in a tweet the feature is available in a “few countries”, but did not further specify which. A spokeswoman told the Guardian pronoun information will not be shared with advertisers and is only for display purposes.
Still, Grygiel said, Instagram has more work to do when it comes to making the platform more inclusive to all. The platform has been accused of censoring members of the LGBTQ+ community in the past; including banning ads without reason or erroneously removing images.
“There is a lot of bullying and harassment, and we still don’t see enough support,” Grygiel said. “From a broader standpoint we need social media platforms to be safe spaces for the queer and LGBTQ+ individuals; which involves being inclusive of pronouns but also just creating safer spaces.”