Instagram is introducing new features which it says will help reduce the amount of abusive and offensive messages users receive on the platform.

The changes come after the Facebook-owned social media platform was criticised for failing to promptly deal with racist abuse aimed at some English soccer players following the Euro 2020 final.

One of the changes announced today will allow users to hide comments and private message requests from people that do not follow them - or only recently started to follow them.

"Our research shows that a lot of negativity towards public figures comes from people who don't actually follow them, or who have only recently followed them, and who simply pile on in the moment," said head of Instagram Adam Mosseri in a post detailing the changes.

Mr Mosseri said users had told them that a sudden increase in popularity was sometimes accompanied by a spike in abusive and negative comments.

As an example of that he cited the aftermath of the Euro 2020 final, which saw the accounts of England’s Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho received a large number of racist messages - many of which remained visible for days.

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Some users that reported the abuse also said that they received an automated message from Instagram saying that the content "probably" did not go against their community guidelines.

Following the incident Mr Mosseri told BBC News that its system had "mistakenly" marked some of the abuse as benign when it was not.

He said the reports should have been referred to human moderators and the issue had since been addressed.

Another change announced by Instagram today will see the expansion of a feature that can hide private messages requests if they contain a word, phrase or emoji that is deemed offensive.

This option was launched in a handful of countries in April but will be available globally by the end of this month.

Meanwhile Instagram said it would also strengthen the wording of the prompt seen by users who attempt to post something that its system suspects to be offensive.

"We’ve found these warnings really discourage people from posting something hurtful," said Mr Mosseri.