Instagram’s Hashtag Policy Continues to Make No Sense

by Hanna Lustig

They imprisoned the female nipple. They seized our phallic eggplant emojis. And now, you can add one more casualty – Instagram has banned #goddess, too.

This latest revelation continues the spate of controversial Insta-bans in recent months. #Curvy, for example, was blocked for a week for nudity – pardon me, “irrelevant pornography.”

And golly, I’m ever so glad they did! Imagine me, a tenderhearted female, stumbling across a little pesky, irrelevant nudity! I wouldn’t have survived the shock. A male doctor would’ve had to revive me with smelling salts. He, however, need not wear a shirt because male nipples are totally kosher in public HAVEN’T YOU HEARD?!?!.

I kid, I kid.

After body-positive users voiced enough anger to lift the ban, #curvy made its triumphant return to the Internet three days ago, but will undergo more stringent monitoring than before. I predict #goddess will meet a similar fate, once it becomes overwhelmingly clear 99 percent of the tag’s content is uplifting and innocuous. For the time being, many Instagram addicts have already switched to the spin-off tag #goddesses.

That said, it’s important to note Instagram’s filtering system is partially automated. When a term is “consistently associated with content that breaks the company’s terms of service,” it’s flagged for removal. Instagram director of public policy Nicky Jackson Colaco said the site removes such tags every day, though not necessarily more risqué varieties like #dildo. The difference between #dildo and #goddess, between a living tag and a banned tag, lies not in what pops up on the page. Rather, it’s about who did the searching and what they were (or were NOT) expecting to see. As Colaco remarked, Instagram is not intentionally trying to “stifle” the voices and positive messages of its users. 

Still, this tech-savvy feminist is growing weary of the Insta-overlords and their commitment to protecting my virtue. Social media is all about balancing Internet safety and self-expression. Yes. Good.

But if gender has nothing to do with it, what about #god?

Image via ABC


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