#Curvy banned by Instagram in crackdown on nudity

You are never far from a storm when it comes to social media policy, and the latest comes from Instagram, who have banned users from searching for the hashtag “curvy” as part of their crackdown on the amount of nudity that is posted on the social network.

Instagram – who was purchased by Facebook in April 2012 – have been trying to stop the growing amount of spam and porn accounts that flood the social network (and plenty of others too, including Facebook and Twitter), and banning #Curvy and a host of other search terms, including #Butt, #Thighs and #Nipple.

This post on BuzzFeed highlights the issue with banning certain search words, and brings up several new questions, one of which being: “Where does it stop?” Social media is used to highlight and publicise several causes and issues, including eating disorders, self-esteem in young people and body image, and #curvy would have been used for at least a handful of these.

Naturally, the hashtag being banned prompted all manner of responses from across the web:

Instagram’s guidelines state that users should not post “violent, nude, partially nude … pornographic or sexually suggestive” photos. Here is the section on nudity in full:

“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.”

Users are likely to be happy about that, but when hashtags with four-letter expletives are still searchable on Instagram, and posts that show male and female genitalia can still be found, cries of double standards are bound to follow.

This is one of the problems that the major social networks are grappling with. Once you start banning, removing or clamping down on anything, you open yourself up for controversy. Users have fought back by using the hashtag #Curvee to promote positivity in relation to body image, and have argued that other, far more sexually-related search terms still exist.

How ridiculous to ban #curvy* on Instagram! Love the #curvee movement.   A photo posted by She Might Be Loved (@georginagrogan_) on


Celebrities such as Rihanna and Miley Cyrus pride themselves on their risqué image, and they’ve been warned for showing too much flesh in their Instagram posts in the past, particularly when Cyrus joined the Free the Nipple campaign, who themselves have been critical of Instagram’s policies.

The main problem that Instagram is faced with is the never-ending number of spam accounts and porn content that floods the web. They are simply overwhelmed and have their backs against the wall because they have to be seen to be doing something about it.

Instagram should be commended for trying to take a stand against pornography and spam on its social network, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of hashtags that are being used innocently. There must be other ways of clamping down on individual entries rather than shutting down hashtags altogether, and maybe we will see more of that as the debate continues.

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