Update: I gave up and started a new account. Follow me?
If you follow me on any of my social networks you probably have noticed that I got banned from Instagram. I am very upset to lose my most popular social network (8,500 followers) and a ton of photos I didn’t have backed up but I am more upset about how it happened, without warning and without recourse.
I have been on Instagram for just under two years, I actually got an iPhone because of Instagram, and in that time I quickly gained a following and it became my most engaged social network. I could expect tons of likes and comments on every photo and it was easy to send to my other social networks. As a photographer it was a great tool, but as someone who often shoots nude women it was annoyingly restrictive as far as nudity is concerned.
I never read the Terms of Service (TOS) as I probably should have but I had a basic understanding of what I could and could not post. Based on the experiences of my friends, both photographers and models, it became clear that nipples and full nudity could get you in trouble. I made sure in every photo to keep all the private bits covered. Often when I wanted to post nudity I just had a girl cover her breasts or something, but at times the restriction gave me a reason to creatively figure out a way to hide the nudity. I didn’t love it, but I could live with it.
In the twenty months that I used Instagram I was never suspended, warned or had any issues with anything. I had friends lose their accounts for nudity but they had always done something stupid and posted something that even they agreed crossed the lines. I never had that problem and was always careful. I did have a few photos mysteriously deleted but I was never warned about it or anything like that. I had friends who had been sent emails warning them about nudity so I figured I was safe at least until I got my first warning.
When Instagram was bought by Facebook I was pretty concerned that the nudity policies would toughen up significantly because I have been suspended from Facebook for posting photos of girls in their underwear. I am very careful on Facebook and rarely post any photo that is even mildly scandalous. I worried that Instagram would head that way and make the app much worse.
My fears have not only been realized but it seems that Instagram’s policy is even more draconian. Right around the same time my account was deleted several of my friends in the adult world lost their accounts as well. Two adult actresses with massive internet followings Dana DeArmond and April O’Neil both lost their accounts just days after I lost mine. None of us posted anything more graphic than anything we had been posting previously. Clearly Instagram has shifted their policy on nudity without any warning, but that’s not the worst part.
By far the worst part about losing my Instagram account is that there is absolutely no recourse. When I was banned from Facebook I emailed them and they gave me steps to get my account back. I had my account on Flickr suspended but they told me exactly what I needed to do to comply with their TOS. Instagram on the other hand offers absolutely no recourse.
There was no warning, no notification and there is no way of contacting them. At one point you could contact Instagram through a form on their website and the email account firstname.lastname@example.org but both of these options have been disabled. If you try emailing you just get a form letter saying the email is inactive. I never even was emailed notifying me of my accounts termination. All that happened was when I tried to log in I got a message with a link to Instagram’s TOS.
Those terms include: “You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service.”
I clearly broke these terms. I posted “partially nude” images without question. I don’t agree with these terms, but clearly I violated them, but I have been violating them for two years and so have thousands and thousands of users. If Instagram has finally decided to strictly enforce the partial nudity rule, that’s fine and while I don’t like it, I would have to abide by it. The problem I have is with being delete without any recourse, without any warning. If they had let me know that I needed to clean up my account I would have done it. If they had suspended me until I did so I would have done it. Had I been warned I would have kept my account much more PG. But none of those things happened. I was just deleted without even an email. Even Facebook gives you options.
I could start another Instagram account, but I am so furious about the situation. I lost nearly 10 thousand followers, hundreds of images and my account name. I am @drivenbyboredom on EVERY social network I join and having to change that name alone is infuriating. Censoring the internet like this is awful to begin with but to just delete my account, all my work, and a major business tool without any recourse or explanation is really hard to deal with.
I know losing my Instagram account is such a first world problem but it hurts my business and speaks to a larger issue of businesses controlling your creative output and censoring the internet. An established professional photographer who was flourishing in the Instagram network is the type of user they should be encouraging, not banning without notice.
Fortunately for me, I have launched my own mobile app that I can post all the nudity I want on but it will never provide me with the feedback or the social interaction that Instagram provided. The whole thing is really depressing.
Have you lost your account recently? Heard of anyone getting their’s unsuspended? Can anyone help me get my account back? Email me or let me know in the comments!