Sex Sells, But Not Online
If Instagram has banned nudity... How come there’s so many tits and ass on there? One billion users make Instagram the most social of the social networks in the world. A network linking other paid networks together, linking businesses with businesses, consumers with creators and content with cash. Instagram also has a “no nudity” policy banning “no female-presenting nipples,” and artistic nudity, with exceptions for paintings, sculptures, breastfeeding and post-mastectomy scars. Yet, there are still millions of pictures posted that could be tagged as “Sexy” or “risque.”
In popular culture, it's commonplace for people to be body positive. Online this translated to posting your body and getting likes. SO what happens when the adult industry meets the online “no nudity” policy? Well, they follow it of course - and they’re still shadow-banned, blocked and removed from the app on both working and personal accounts that follow community guidelines. Pornstars have verified Instagram accounts, as such, they must work to maintain their image and stay within guidelines. Anyone can go too far and have a post removed, or their account banned. However, those that are following guidelines are repeatedly having their accounts removed. This has resulted in sex worker advocates holding a protest out the front of Instagrams headquarters as thousands of accounts had been suspended and livelihoods destroyed or on the brink of complete destruction.
Due to the free and accessible nature of pornography, professionals must turn to new income streams such as endorsements, escorting on the side, paid social media platforms such as only.fans. However, Instagram is usually the base for their operations - the place where their cold contacts become paying punters. As such they follow guidelines and often post things that are less risque than the Kardashians post. Yet they are patrolled as if they are lawbreakers, especially following the US implementation of FOSTA and SESTA regulation. These regulations had a global effect due to the servers running through the US. Many sex workers, advocates and called this a move back into the past, putting workers in danger and removing the safety nets they had created such as client lists, blacklists, and networks.
The Adult Performer Actors Guild, the largest labour union for the adult film industry organised the protest out front of Instagrams Silicon Valley headquarters over nudity community guidelines. They claimed that they are not upset about the enforcing of standards, but that the standards violated are not highlighted and there is little to no direction on how to restore accounts. Which we must highlight, is their major income generator. Amber Lynn, an American porn star with 100,000 followers had her account terminated and after multiple emails to Instagram did not identify what guidelines were broken and did not give an opportunity to correct any problems.
An Instagram crusader, known only by his Twitter handle, Omid, told Jezebel he has succeeded in reporting and shutting down the accounts of 250 to 300 porn performers. His success has outraged performers and supporters of the industry, and apparently Jezebel itself, who characterized his efforts as “harassment” of a “marginalized community.” “Everybody I know has had their Instagram taken down,” said popular porn star Abigail Mac. “You can be a woman and show your skin as long as you’re not affiliated with the adult industry.”
Jezebel reported they reached out to Instagram for comment, who said most of the accounts targeted by Omid were “correctly removed for violating our sexual solicitation policies.” According to Jezebel, an Instagram spokesperson said only a “small number were removed in error.” “We allow sex-positive content and discussion on Instagram, but given the wide-ranging ages and cultures of the people who use our service, we do not allow content that facilitates, encourages or coordinates sexual encounters between adults,” the spokesperson told Jezebel.
Further, a twitter user called Omid publically declared his vengeance on the adult industry and claimed responsibility for the taking down of many accounts such as prominent cam girl, Melody Kush who was banned from her 114,000 follower twitter account for using a photo with a nipple in her header in the past, not the time of her suspension. Kush started a backup account, as many within the industry are having to do to secure their fan base (and often their income). She believes she is currently under a shadowban - a term used to describe the way a platform makes users accounts less visible by removing updates from feeds and forcing followers to head directly to their page for updates. Further, there are instances of followers being unable to find accounts even when users are not aware of a ban and actively posting. This deliberate attempt to make sex workers and adult performers less visual is a step back into time, removing protection and social safety nets.
When prominent users lose their username, fake accounts rise to the top and masquerade as the user profiting off their hard work. And it's not just female adult performers affected, Porn performer Prince Yahshua was also banned and actively warning his followers against the rise of fake accounts asking his fans for money.
We will return to this topic to discuss how artists, advocates and sex educators are also affected by the censorship of the adult industry online. It's pretty simple right now... Sex sells, but not online.