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Cracking The Whip: Why Meta Is Censoring Sex Positive Instagram Accounts

Cracking The Whip: Why Meta Is Censoring Sex Positive Instagram Accounts

Last week, dozens of Instagram accounts were shut down without warning. What did they all have in common? They’re all owned by sex positive creators, educators, communities and platforms. Since 2018, Meta has notably been cracking down on kink and sex positive accounts. A recent mass de-platforming move saw over 45 accounts in the community shut down, including fetish club @klubverboten and women and non-binary people focused sex positive space, @slut.social. It might lead you to ask: does The Zuck just not want us to fuck

Join Henn Mossery-Golan as she explores what’s behind this wave of social media censorship - and why it’s something we should all stand up against, whether or not you’re brandishing a flogger in your profile shot…


Why Does It Matter?

Firstly, specifically targeting the sex-positive community perpetuates the idea that sex is dirty, shameful, or something to be hidden from public gaze. Instagram makes sex education accessible and relatable for those who don’t receive it elsewhere. It allows young people to find LGBTQI+ individuals to look up to and ask questions as they explore their sexuality. Influencers, such as Scotty Unfamous or Come Curious podcast hosts Reed Amber and Florence Bark, go above and beyond what any of us had received at school and talk about the importance of consent and pleasure in our wellbeing. Removing their community’s access to the resources they’ve spent years cultivating denies people of essential education and harm reduction skills.

Secondly, these accounts are more than just social media profiles - they represent flourishing, creative and vital communities of predominantly queer individuals. Targeting specifically sex-related accounts is a direct attack on people’s identities and livelihoods. Being shut down without warning, and not knowing when your account will be reinstated, is a terrifying prospect for many members of this space as it threatens their income, their network, their ability to contact valued members of their community, and can have a serious impact on their mental health. 

Meta has chosen to deprive individuals of their primary source of income, and community members from access to the education that they need. Furthermore, the lack of transparency on Meta’s behalf regarding reasons for account deletion or suspension makes it even harder for those operating on these platforms to conform to ‘the rules’.

Inside The Protest

I headed down to Meta’s office in London to the #StopDeletingUs protest to show support, and spoke with Klub Verboten founder, Karl. His message for Meta? “We mean no harm, we like you and owe your platform a lot. Sadly, we were deplatformed, which hurt our feelings and our income. It would be nice if the Meta people came down and talked to us, to show a little solidarity.”

According to Dr Carolina Are, a specialist in platform censorship of sex and nudity, sex workers have also been specifically targeted when mentioning links on their platforms, even if these aren’t for OnlyFans. This is due to Meta’s policy on content which “facilitates, encourages or coordinates sexual encounters or commercial sexual services between adults”. But even without mention of OnlyFans, SWers are losing the platforms they need to build a public profile and vet potential clients, which is super important in keeping them safe. 

Helena Whittingham, founder of Lover Management, an agency dedicated to supporting those working in the sex and erotic space, reiterated that these platforms are essential for her clients, as well as brands like us who can’t run ads due to Meta’s restrictions:

“People’s instagrams are people’s livelihoods, this is not just a futile thing. We need protection, we need warnings, we have solutions that we’ve provided to Meta, so stop deleting us!"

 

What is Meta saying?

Meta has a record of over-moderating sex accounts, and have often failed to take down sex trafficking accounts and targeted individual sex workers. Mitch Henderson, a Meta spokesperson commented:

“We understand our platforms play an important role in helping people express themselves and connect with communities. While we allow sex positive content and discussion, we have rules in place around nudity and sexual solicitation to ensure content is appropriate for everyone, particularly young people. A number of the accounts brought to our attention were removed in error and have been reinstated.” 

The size of Meta’s platforming makes moderation difficult. Ensuring content is appropriate whilst considering their users' different ages, cultural values, and backgrounds has subsequently led to them becoming what Dr Are called,”Overzealous in censoring anything related to sex.” In order to do a more effective job of moderation, they need to improve their appeals process, to make it easier for users to retrieve their accounts, as well as develop a more nuanced understanding of what is inappropriate content - it’s not illegal to be sex-positive!

Whether it's algorithm issues, as Meta claims, or individual moderators targeting these pages because of their own beliefs, the community has had enough. Here’s how you can help protect sex positive online communities on Instagram: 

  • Show solidarity by attending events they’re hosting, such as Klub Verboten’s parties.
  • Engage with the #stopdeletingus campaign and spread the word about Meta’s mass de-platforming.
  • Follow and engage with accounts you love - meaningful engagement matters!
  • Attend protests in-person to show your support (keep an eye out on Lover's Instagram here!).

Want more?

Slide into our DMs @hanxofficial

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