We knew you’d shut us down. Even though we went out of our way to follow your written guidelines, as well as the shit you don’t mention but still enforce. We didn’t post any nude pictures, impersonate someone else or spread hate filled lies. Still, we knew you’d shut us down. See, we called ourselves “That Censored Show” instead of Porn: A Series, the actual name of our little independent film project. Because knew you’d try to censor us. And you did. Well played?
Et tu, IG?
How did we know you’d censor us even though we didn’t violate anything explicitly mentioned in your guidelines? We’re aware you tend to shadow ban accounts that mention porn, when you’re not straight up terminating them like you did with us. In fact, nowadays it’s impossible to register anything with those four letters in them – you claim they’re already used. Except of course for Pornhub, a billion dollar plus company that’s one of the largest porn platforms in the world. What’s up with that? Are they greasing your wheels or something?
Not that we’re against Pornhub. They respond to criticism with action. They even have a scholarship program. How many students have you sent to college, Instagram?
To be fair, we can’t really hold you accountable for shutting us down. As a private company, you have no obligation to honor, promote or uphold free speech. There are some good reasons for this. You “want Instagram to continue to be an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression” without Nazi incel hatemongers terrorizing anyone who doesn’t fit their fucked up worldview. That makes sense.
Even if these fools do manage to connect and upload horrific content on your platform, like videos of the Christchurch shooting.
Even if your corporate sugar daddy Mark Zuckerberg hides behind free speech to avoid accountability, especially when it’s politically convenient for those in power.
But let’s focus on the real reason we’re all here. Sex. First off, it’s pretty messed up that your standards and practices automatically lump sexually provocative material in with hate speech, violence or actual crimes like trafficking and pedophilia. Also, we’re not the first to point out how censorship and shadow banning often target vulnerable individuals – sex workers trying to legally earn a living (like the stars of our series), LGBTQ identifiers and people with unconventional body types. In other words, this built in anti-sex bias tends to marginalize traditionally marginalized groups and precisely the people likely to be victims of hate speech and threats.
In the end, it’s not so much about censorship as it is hypocrisy. The truth is Instagram would be nothing without sex. There’s one simple reason IG has grown into the world’s most popular platform: most people, especially the young, want to be identified as beautiful and worthy of attention. The best way to do this? Post beautiful, sexy photos for the world to see. Audiences like sex. They want glamor. They love scantily clad hot individuals. Why else would Kim Kardashian have enough followers to form her own country? Why else would eating disorders still plague teens after decades of mental health awareness on this issue… even though you clearly state (in the smallest area of your guidelines that probably no one reads) that you don’t want Instagram to be promoting eating disorders? In fact, it seems like you’ve done more to profit off of body obsession and insecurity than any other brand in the world. But PORN as a general concept seems to be a hard no when it comes to content?
Apparently not, if you let the world’s largest porn site have millions of followers.
We’re just sayin’…
So certain sexy or downright porn-y content is acceptable, even if it’s unhealthy, damaging, even hateful. But some sexually provocative content is deemed unacceptable, even when it follows all Instagram’s stated rules. We’re simply wondering why. We know you don’t have to answer us. After all, “That Censored Show” was on Instagram through your terms and service, which clearly spell out how you can tell us to fuck off any time [like you did]. When a small, independently produced web series about the porn industry, which tries to portray people honestly and with compassion and is less explicit than most HBO shows, gets treated differently than Pornhub or Kim Kardashian, we’re wondering how you can claim to be “an authentic and safe place for inspiration and expression” while still keeping a straight face.