Instagram is changing their policy on nudity following online backlash to the censorship of plus-size black bodies
Earlier this year, Instagram was accused of censoring and discriminating against plus-size black bodies when the social media site removed images of the plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams. Alongside photographer Alexandra Cameron and activist Gina Martin (whose campaign led to upskirting becoming illegal in the UK), Nicholas-Williams started a huge movement on social media.
Content creators in their droves confirmed their images were being removed when the same treatment of partial nudity wasn’t being exercised on white or smaller bodies. Fans began to post pictures of Nicholas-Williams with the hashtag #IWantToSeeNyome.
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“The conversation I had with Instagram was initially them apologising for taking the images down and I questioned and I asked “why were they?” and they didn’t have a reason for that but we know what the reason is. Censorship slash racism, subtle racism that’s ebbed into everything,” said Nyome Nicholas-Williams in a video for Freeda that she shared on her Instagram.
Instagram uses sophisticated AI technology and 15,000 global manual reviewers to flag images deemed inappropriate. A spokesperson from Instagram told The Guardian that Nicholas-Williams’ pictures were removed as “we do not allow breast squeezing because it can be most commonly associated with pornography”.
“As we looked into this more closely, we realised it was an instance where our policy on breast squeezing wasn’t being correctly applied. Hearing Nyome’s feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it.”
Thanks to the tireless campaigning of Nicholas-Williams, Cameron and Martin, Instagram is now changing their policy on nudity and will ensure fair and equal treatment of all bodies.
“We have put our heart and souls into this campaign and to see it come to fruition is insane!” Nicholas-Williams wrote on Instagram.
“There is of course a huge racial imbalance in the algorithm that still exists as white bodies are promoted and don’t have to worry about censorship of their posts but black bodies still have to justify presence on the platform, this has also been brought to Instagrams attention! But when we put our minds to it... we can achieve literally anything!”
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WE FUCKING DID IT!! @ginamartin @alex_cameron and I...we changed an Instagram policy! Look what happens when three women set out to change the world! We have put our heart and souls into this campaign and to see it come to fruition is insane! The observer newspaper (which is out today) has covered the campaign from the beginning and have written another article which highlights the hard work Gina, Alex and I have done (although it states they launched the campaign) this is in fact not the case as Gina, Alex and myself strategised for three months to ensure a change would happen. Hang tight for the full details of the policy change, as I will be detailing more information soon. We worked very hard on this and managed to get Instagram and @mosseri attention and there's still a lot of work to be done, as black plus sized women continue to be censored in many ways; and white women STILL tried to hijack and make it their campaign. There is of course a huge racial imbalance in the algorithm that still exists as white bodies are promoted and don't have to worry about censorship of their posts but black bodies still have to justify presence on the platform, this has also been brought to Instagrams attention! But when we put our minds to it... we can achieve literally ANYTHING!! I’d like to thank the 16 amazing humans that put their names to our open letter and that helped us push our campaign forward! The Instagram policy changes on the 28th, it outlines the difference between 'breast holding' or 'cupping' which is a celebration of body and 'breast grabbing' which is deemed to be pornographic, these images are censored to protect underage users but this policy change should allow them to better differentiate self expression/ art from pornographic content. Hopefully this policy change will bring an end to the censorship of fat black bodies. The last three have been absolutely wild to say the least but we move and move things we did! ???
The new policy on nudity comes into effect on October 28 and will apply across both Instagram and Facebook.
Photography via @curvynyome.
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