Ever get your content flagged for going against community guidelines? Maybe it was because you used a word the algorithm deemed was too “racy” or “gay”. Maybe you were twerking with friends on the beach in your stories. God forbid you were nursing your baby in public.
Lately, Instagram (and by Insta we also mean FB) has been a censorship hellscape. We have a lot of questions, like: what exactly are shadowbans? Is posting on social media even worth it? What will get my account deactivated? Why are social media platforms muting voices?
Well, Gen Z may have outsmarted social media on this one, through the ability of monitoring and cleaning up their own content, and even to do and post whatever the fuck they want. Regulation of content may be good in moderation, but it’s gone too far.
Starting in 2018, people who used Instagram reported noticing the algorithm marginalizing people of color and queer identities. One of those in particular was plus-sized model Nyome Nicholas-Williams, whose nude photos were repeatedly deleted by Instagram until she received a warning that her account would soon be shut down if she continued. Upon interviews around this topic, a social media war broke out with “#IWantToSeeNyome” which resulted in a long fight against the unfair and restrictive guidelines currently in place. On October 28th 2018, a new guideline was passed that allowed women to hold or cup their breasts; yet, with the slightest bit of freedom, if the cupping “changes the breast size” of the model the photo could potentially be removed.
In a world of what is now being deemed the “Vanilla Internet” content creators have thought of savvy ways to post content that normally would be banned through censoring their content. TikTok has become another popular platform notoriously known for extreme regulation. The app’s most major community guideline involves the protection of minors, so any content that qualifies as spam, bullying, harassment, sexually-explicit, or related to illegal activity is removed. We of course want to protect minors and make sure there is not a home for harassment and bullying on social media. Where it gets tricky is when sex positive, educational content gets lumped into this “sexually-explicit” category. Why is social media going out of its way to block plant based sex serum content but looks the other way when racial slurs are inundating the space?
BUT, TikTokers have found a loophole by simply changing their in-video text from something like “sexual” to “seggsual” or “vagina” to “coochie” or simply 🐱.
By changing the spelling, creators are reclaiming the space. And yes, TikTok can still catch people by flagging a video, but it saves people from getting reported more often than not.
My personal recent favorite is instead of saying “boobs” or “tiddies” , creators have started saying “mommy milkers”.
Our other fav examples include:
“c💦m” (for cum)
“f$xk” (for fuck)
By replacing vowels with certain emojis or characters, creators avoid getting their videos flagged for explicit content.
In 2019, Instagram changed their nudity policy but not drastically. Many artists were complaining that their artwork was constantly being censored and deleted because it portrayed nude or sexual scenes. While they still claim to not allow nudity on Instagram, the guidelines go on to say:“It also includes some photos of female nipples, photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.”
While this is a small step in the right direction, artists still complain of censorship taking place even after this guideline was revised. Not only this, but these nudity guidelines seem to be very gendered. Instagram has their own way of determining if someone falls into a gender category, so it raises the question for conversations soon to be had about how the policies can shift towards inclusivity.
Personal Fav will continue to push these boundaries and fight against a system built against educating our community on sexual health and wellness and advocating for inclusivity. However, we might also have to post a few pictures of animals or change our spelling to get out of shadowban jail. We’re passionate about our product because we believe that pleasure is something worth talking about.