When you are a major social media company you have to deal with walking the fine line between honoring users’ free speech and blocking both smut and hate content. This is a problem which Instagram has faced with regards to images of plus sized or “curvy” women and anything related to current political controversies. The company just reversed itself on use of the “#Curvy” hashtag after a two week ban while moving to limit posts related to Sandra Bland.
Instagram had blocked “#Curvy” because it felt that the search term was being abused by people who uploaded pornographic materials. The company does not allow nudity.
But after complaints from plus sized women, Instagram restored the hashtag. Nicky Jackson Colaco, Instagram’s director of public policy, told The Washington Post, “The problem was that the #curvy hashtag was being used for other reasons.”
“This wasn’t curvy pornography, this was just irrelevant pornography, ” Colaco added. “There is nobody who’s cherry-picking terms. And the silver lining in this we have been made aware of terms that hadn’t gotten reported. We’re trying to be as consistent as possible.”
Then there is the case of Sandra Bland. Whatever did or did not happen, the fact is she was an African American woman who died while in police custody. #SandraBland skyrocketed after the news of her death with huindreds of thousands of posts. But many of these included all manner of conspiracy theories and hate speech.
As a result, Instagram was forced to suspend the hashtag for 24 hours while its moderators took the time to review the content of posts made under it.