The Instagram censorship debate continues this week following the suspension of a high-profile photographer's account after she shared images of a model where menstrual blood was visible.
Harley Weir’s Instagram account was deactivated five days ago, before being reinstated today, after she shared images from a shoot for i-D magazine. Weir was photographing nude models for the magazine's The Female Gaze edition from her series, Portraits of a Woman. Weir, who also shot the controversial Calvin Klein erotica themed campaign, shared a shot of one model, who was on her period, with her 91,000 followers.
Menstrual blood was visible on the model’s legs and the image was removed.
After this, Weir uploaded a second photo showing just the model’s torso and legs. As with the first, the image was pixilated but streaks of blood were visible across her legs.
Despite photos depicting menstruation not banned by Instagram, Weir's account was suspended for five days before being reactivated today. Instagram has since apologised for the suspension, saying this was done in "error".
Speaking to the Independent, Weir said she sympathised with the need to protect users, but she questioned Instagram's focus. “I censor my pictures in a nice way - I don't use funny emojis or anything,” she said.
“I do understand their need to censor some images because children use the website, though I think most kids have been breastfed or have seen breasts before. I also understand it’s hard to police an app as big as that so it doesn’t have to have an 18 rating - I actually do get it.
“But when you Google 'Instagram' you see girls in thongs taking mirror selfies and they are fine. What actually is ok? I think there are much more perverted things on the internet and a lot more hateful comments - it’s funny where they draw the line.”
Instagram censorship controversies
Instagram censorship controversies
Rupi Kaur uploaded an image onto the social networking site for a menstruation-themed photo series developed by her and her sister Prabh. The image, which was taken by Prabh, shows Ms Kaur lying down on a bed fully clothed with two spots of blood visible on her clothes and on the sheet. It was removed from Instagram twice for violating its community standards. Ms Kaur challenged the removal and the image was eventually restored on the site
Harley Weir’s Instagram account was deactivated, after she shared images from a shoot for i-D magazine. Weir was photographing nude models for the magazine's The Female Gaze edition from her series, Portraits of a Woman. Weir, who also shot the controversial Calvin Klein erotica themed campaign, shared a shot of one model, who was on her period, with her 91,000 followers. Menstrual blood was visible on the model’s legs and the image was removed
Chrissy Teigen uploaded an image of herself taken for the W Magazine, in which Teigen’s nipple was visible. The picture was later determined to violate Instagram’s usage guidelines and the image was removed. To challenge the policy Teigen later posted a selfie on Instagram with a strategically placed can of hairspray covering her nipple
Scout Willis was banned from Instagram for posting a photograph of a sweatshirt she designed featuring two topless women. The 22-year-old actress, who is the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, went on a topless jaunt around New York City to highlight her disagreement with policies against female nudity
Rihanna is known for notoriously challenging Instagram's censorship. In the latest spat with the site her topless photo from the cover of French magazine Lui was banned
Instagram was heavily criticised for deleting photos of women showing off their post-baby bodies. That prompted women who wanted to show how the motherhood really looks like, to form the group The 4th Trimester Bodies Project and post images of their changed bodies
Blogger Meghan Tonjes posted an image of her butt to Instagram as a body-positive message to her followers. The picture was quickly removed as it was considered as inappropriate and violating site's guidlines. Tonjes however believed that it was taken down due to her size
User Samm Newman posted a selfie in her underwear to celebrate her plus-size figure but Instagram decided to take the image down. The social platform was later questioned about the controversial censorship, as many believed it was an example of fat-shaming
Comedian Chelsea Handler challenged the nudity policy with an image in which she tried to recreate a shirtless photo of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The post was removed by Instagram and Handler called the move sexist, saying, “If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it's OK, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?”
Many women have had their Instagram photos removed and accounts shut down because of breastfeeding photos. In a protest against censoring photos of mothers taking part in something as natural as breastfeeding groups such as @normalizebreastfeeding dedicated their accounts to fight the stigma
Australian online magazine Sticks and Stones had its Instagram account removed after posting the photo of two women with pubic hair peeking out of their swimsuits
A spokesperson for Instagram said: “We apologise for the error made here. When reviewing reported content from the Instagram community, we do not always get it right and we wrongly removed this image and temporarily suspended this account. As soon as we were made aware of this error, we restored the content.”
Censorship has become a major point of contention on Instagram, where community guidelines set by administrators ban nudity and images of intercourse. Women internationally have led free the nipple protests launched by Scout Willis, who walked through New York topless after her account was suspended. She had uploaded a photograph of a jumper with two topless women depicted on it before her account was removed.
Pictures of breastfeeding where nipples are visible are allowed on the network after new guidelines were released in April. Guidelines now state “sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully nude buttocks” are prohibited, along with “some photos of female nipples”.
Images of breastfeeding and post-mastectomy scarring are now allowed, along with photos of paintings and sculptures. Photos of topless men are rarely censored.
Art student Rupi Kaur made headlines globally when her menstruation-themed project was removed from the site, including an image of her asleep with blood visible on her trousers. The image was removed twice for violating Instagram’s community standards. Instagram later apologised to Ms Kaur and said it had removed the images by mistake.Reuse content