Police have shut down an online social media account that was targeting students in Ottawa with photographs and degrading comments.

Instagram is a social photo-sharing application for Apple and Android users.

An Instagram account, which took its name from a derogatory term for women in Arabic slang, apparently used photos of students and captioned them with comments ranging from generic to degrading.

The account came to the attention of police when someone complained.

"I think the main problem was that there were some comments … that were pretty specific on some specific people that pertained to those photos," said Ottawa police Sgt. Norm Sandre, who is investigating.

"Some of the comments that were made, they range from very generic comments to very degrading, very specific comments of a sexual nature, and those are the kinds of things that concern us.

"One comment can be enough to affect somebody for the rest of their lives … so we take them seriously, and so does the school, and so should everybody," he said.

It's difficult for police to track down the people behind online accounts, Sandre said, but the investigation continues.

The Ontario government is working on an anti-bullying law.