Strict guidelines limiting the content allowed on Apple’s App Store are a primary reason why Instagram censors pictures of female nipples, the company’s chief executive Kevin Systrom has admitted.
Speaking at an event hosted by Dazed Media in Shoreditch, London, Mr Systrom explained that violating Apple’s guidelines could risk the app being removed, the Business Insider reported.
Apple’s App Store explicitly bans nudity within apps unless it is rated suitable for those aged over 17, according to the organisation’s Review Guidelines.
As Instagram aims to appeal to as many users as possible, gaining a higher age rating to allow more explicit content would alienate younger users, Mr Systrom said.
Instagram operates under a 12+ rating, which under App Store Guidelines "may contain frequent or intense cartoon, fantasy or realistic violence, mild or infrequent mature or suggestive themes... which may not be suitable for children under the age of 12".
Instagram’s prohibition of female nudity has been contested by campaigns such as #FreetheNipple, which identifies a double standard of censoring female nipples while allowing the male equivalent in Instagram photos.
Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Naomi Campbell have both had pictures removed from the app. Rhianna famously had her Instagram account shut down last year after the singer repeatedly posted topless photos.
When Scout Willis, the actress daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, asked Instagram why it had removed topless of pictures of her, the company replied: “We prohibit all forms of nudity on Instagram because some audiences within our global community are particularly sensitive to this type of content.”
Mr Systrom said Instagram remains “committed to artistic freedom” despite the censorship, according to the Business Insider, adding that “in order to scale effectively” some “tough calls” have to be made.
Instagram's community guidelines explain that images of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is also allowed.
The guidelines state: "We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too."
Despite this there have been reports of the company removing images of breastfeeding women and US Vogue’s creative director Grace Coddington was temporarily banned from Instagram after posting a topless line-drawn cartoon of herself on the app.
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