"This feature lets you list words you consider offensive or inappropriate," Systrom wrote. "Comments with these words will be hidden from your posts. You can choose your own list of words or use default words we've provided."
Instagram users, he said, can still also swipe to delete comments, report inappropriate comments and block accounts.
The new feature is accessible by tapping the gear icon within the app. The company earlier announced that it was testing the feature on high-profile accounts with the intention of rolling out some form of comment filtering to the general public.
The company is using this and other tools to combat online harassment, which is a problem on Instagram as it is on every social media site. All the major social networks — including, of course, Instagram's parent company Facebook — have grappled with the question of how to make their networks feel safe for everyone while also making sure safety measures don't cross the line into censorship.
There is a lot of concern, after all, about the posts that social networks can block when they put in broad filters about content. Facebook last week found itself in the midst of a controversy when it suspended an author's account for posting Nick Ut’s iconic Vietnam War photograph of a girl burned by napalm fleeing down the highway. The picture, which showed the girl's clothes burned away, tripped the company's nudity filters.
Facebook initially defended but later reversed its decision.
Giving users their own choice to block out words, at least, gives each Instagram user that option to make their own part of the network feel safe for them — and keeps the company from having to make tricky judgments about what is generally offensive and what isn't.
In his post, Systrom said that this is just the first step for Instagram, which he said needs to "promote a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment."
"We know tools aren't the only solution for this complex problem, but together, we can work towards keeping Instagram a safe place for self-expression," Systrom said. "My commitment to you is that we will keep building features that safeguard the community and maintain what makes Instagram a positive and creative place for everyone."