If you go past Instagram’s headquarters in Silicon Valley today, you’ll probably notice a large crowd of people outside protesting the company. Those people will likely be dozens of adult performers and models who are angry at what they say is Instagram’s confusing guidelines about nudity on the platform, reports the Guardian.
The protesters say they aren’t complaining that Instagram has nudity guidelines, but that those guidelines are opaque and accounts removals for breaking Instagram’s nudity guidelines aren’t uniform. Two accounts might have the same type of nudity in them, but Instagram often only suspends or terminates one of the accounts, they say.
And that discrepancy is for the accounts that openly display nudity. But adult professionals claim they are having their Instagram accounts banned even when their accounts contain no nude photographs. As James Felton, the Adult Performers Actors Guild legal counsel, told the Guardian:
[Out of more than 1,000 adult performer removals in 2019], in the large majority of instances, there was no nudity shown in the pictures. However, it appears that the accounts were terminated merely because of their status as an adult performer. Efforts to learn the reasons behind the termination have been futile.
This lack of communication on exactly why an account has been banned even when it’s not apparent how it violates Instagram’s nudity guidelines means those affected have little understanding of what they can do to get their accounts reinstated. And affected account holders say attempts to contact the company are usually in vain. As the Guardian notes:
When [feminist visual artist Betty Tompkins] asked Instagram why her account was gone, she received an automated response. Others who have had their accounts disabled say in emails with Instagram they were prompted to take a photo of themselves holding a handwritten sign showing a username, to verify their identities. Most say they were given little or no clear direction on how to return to the app. Instagram declined to provide further context about account restoration.
This lack of clarity on how to get their accounts reinstated—or understanding of why their accounts were removed in the first place—can have severe financial repercussions for adult performers, models, and artists who are influencers on the platform and rely on their Instagram following to get jobs or promote their work.
One model, Rachel Clugston, who had her account terminated without warning says she lost thousands of dollars’ worth of work in the 20 days it took her to get Instagram to reinstate her profile. “I learned through this experience Instagram has so much control over my life and my well-being and how I earn a living,” she told the Guardian. “I literally would have been homeless if I did not get my Instagram back. I don’t know what I would have done for work.”