I ran my business through Instagram, which was taken out from under me without discussion, and now they refuse to acknowledge my appeal.
I use Instagram in a positive way to show what I do, to share my art. I use it to connect with people in the industry. An entire network of photographers, models and other artists. But what happens when the lifeblood is drained from the body of my business?
I get a lot of people reporting my images for “nudity”, to which I argue they are body art, which is not pornographic, or abusive or offensive in any way. Nonetheless, my account was disabled for violating Instagram’s terms and conditions. I feel at a loss, in not being consulted about the decision. If someone had messaged me to inform me that an image should have been taken down, it would be down, no questions asked. I should have, at the very least, been part of the conversation.
So, I’m speaking out now. The unprecedented and swift removal of my account has resulted in the loss of images that I don’t have backups of – frankly, a large part of my work, advertising and marketing plans, and too, memories of important people who are no longer with me anymore.
But I can deal with that.
Honestly, what upset me the most is the double standards; that the guidelines punished me instead of protecting me; that I have been reported and cyber-bullied for my appearance, yet in the guidelines it states that “glorifying, promoting or encouraging self-harm isn’t allowed on Instagram” – something I agree with. It seems the guidelines protect themselves, not us.
I’m big on body image. I make the point to not be ashamed of your appearance, whatever that may be. I wanted to show to my followers on Instagram that people have dark pasts, but that doesn’t mean that should drag them down. I was able to vocalise my thoughts to others through Instagram. To disable my account purely based on something as simple as ignorance is beyond my understanding.
It seems to me that Instagram is becoming more just what they want to define as individual expression, as opposed to what actual individual expression is. The experience has left a bitter taste, and as far as I’m concerned, Instagram can add its name to those leaders and groups who tell us how we can or cannot live, dress or look.
To be deleted without warning and to have no acknowledgement of my appeal, combined with a complete lack of concern or respect on how that may affect my career, is far beyond what I’d expect from such a popular career-based platform. It seems low, and more than a little ironic. While we must respect the guidelines given, it has to go both ways. As we serve, they should protect.