Instagram and its parent company Facebook will be updating their nudity policy as of Wednesday 28th October after they were accused of discriminating against plus-size black women.
In August, Nyome Nicholas-Williams was shocked when photos of her with her arms wrapped over her breasts were repeatedly deleted from Instagram. Captured by photographer Alexandra Cameron as part of their ‘confidence shoot’, the censorship was met with uproar and fans flooding the social media site with images of Nyome under the hashtag #IWantToSeeNyome.
Since then, many users have come forward and accused the site of discriminating against plus-size and BAME communities for censoring their images, while continuing to promote similar content from its white users.
“Millions of pictures of very naked, skinny white women can be found on Instagram every day,” said Nicholas-Williams, “but a fat black woman celebrating her body is banned? It was shocking to me. I feel like I’m being silenced.”
Instagram claims that Nyome’s images were removed due to their policy on ‘boob squeezing’.
In a statement, Instagram said: “We do not allow breast squeezing, because it can most commonly be associated with pornographic content – and we need to ensure content is appropriate for people as young as 13, while allowing people to express themselves. This can be a hard balance to strike and means there are times when our policies fall short.
“[Nyome’s] images were intended to demonstrate self-love and body acceptance. 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 her feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it.”
So, the update to Instagram and Facebook’s nudity policy will now allow for content where someone is simply hugging, cupping or holding their boobs, and if there’s any doubt, they’ll ask content reviewers to allow the content to stay live on the sites.
“We do have to draw the line somewhere,” the statement continued, “so when people squeeze their breasts in a grabbing motion with bent fingers or if there is a clear change in the shape of the breasts, that content will still break our rules”.
Instagram and Facebook say they’re committed to getting this right and will continue to work with experts and community members to ensure fair representation.
Nyome’s campaign lead Gina Martin, who made upskirting a criminal offence in the UK, said: “Working for Nyome to strategise this campaign has been important to me, because it’s a clear example of what happens when women come together, get organised, offer their skills and uplift each other.
“Online activism is important and Instagram’s willingness to engage with us on this shows that holding platforms accountable respectfully really works. We’re so happy to see these guidelines become an official change and Nyome be celebrated.”