Banned By Instagram

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.

Banned From Instagram

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.

Banned From Instagram

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.

Banned From Instagram

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 support@instagram.com 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.

Banned From Instagram

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!

Banned From Instagram

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Comments (18)

Comments

  1. damnitnicole
    July 30th, 2013 | 7:08 pm

    I can empathize with losing the name. Even at this point in my life, where I am facing having to scale down this (quite small, compared to yours) brand identity in favor of “straight life” concerns, the idea of not being allowed to be known as damnitnicole sucks.

    This is a great example of what happens when we allow corporations to hold our information in their own private silos. They control it and can do what they like with it. As users of free services like Instagram, FB, Twitter, etc, we are not the customers, we are the product.

    This might interest you as a way, in the future, to have your content all attached to you and backed up adequately, no matter what service or app you also share it on: http://benwerd.com/blog/tag/idno/

  2. Eric
    July 30th, 2013 | 7:14 pm

    Wow, I was wondering why my Instagram feed has been so tame lately. That blows, I’m very curious to see what if any steps are to getting your account back. Good luck.

  3. July 30th, 2013 | 8:26 pm

    Pretty sure there are no steps to get an account, but maybe if enough people complain loudly there will be…

  4. Ken
    July 30th, 2013 | 8:56 pm

    That sucks, I was wondering why I have not seen any of your stuff on there lately, luckily I still follow you on other mediums

  5. July 30th, 2013 | 10:13 pm

    That’s the same kind of bullshit that leads to the suspension of Facebook accounts for posting photos of breastfeeding mothers. The message is clear: bodies are offensive. And it needs to stop. Society needs to progress.

    Sometimes, knowing that stuff like this still happens in 2013 makes me lament not going to law school when I had the chance.

    I’m sorry you lost your photos. Hope you can rebuild your business.

  6. July 31st, 2013 | 1:46 am

    BASTARDS

  7. July 31st, 2013 | 4:48 am

    Ciao dall’Italia.
    Ti seguo da molto tempo, apprezzando il tuo modo di fotografare e anche i soggetti! :-)
    Mi dispiace che ti abbiano bannato da Instagram.
    Hai tutta la mia solidarietà.
    Wild

  8. July 31st, 2013 | 10:22 am

    can you see or access your photos? Im experiencing issues with mine right now bur haven’t posted nudes in an ice age, I can see my feed but no one else can.

  9. July 31st, 2013 | 10:26 am

    Also where/how can I contact instagram. So pissed.

  10. July 31st, 2013 | 2:51 pm

    @Raymes there is no way to contact them and no I can’t see my feed so maybe it’s something else. Try logging out and logging back in.

  11. Ian
    July 31st, 2013 | 8:52 pm

    How the fuck has Suicide Girls not gotten their account suspended?

  12. August 1st, 2013 | 1:03 am

    That is a good question… I am sure it’s just a matter of time…
    I almost want to start an Instagram account just to report anything slightly breaking TOS on big name Instagram users just so more people speak out against this stuff. I’m not going to, but if there was more of an out cry maybe they would change their policies like Tumblr did.

  13. Kat
    August 1st, 2013 | 3:15 am

    That’s so sad :( seems like there is no place for (real) art on Instagram!

    I recommend you to try the photo sharing app “EyeEm”. I like it much more than IG and the guys who run this start up are awesome!

  14. Deb Valdez
    August 19th, 2013 | 12:40 pm

    I was banned without warning and didn’t even post nudity and am unable to open a new account. My IP address was literally banned. This shit is RIDICULOUS.

  15. Amanda
    August 19th, 2013 | 10:04 pm

    hello
    earlier today an account me and my friends run was deleted
    it was an account joking about peoples art and giving them advice on how to make it better
    we were technacly helping people xP
    anyway my friends logged out of their accounts to find out they were disabled
    i have not logged out of my account and im really scared too
    so i dont really know if im banned
    i have 1.2k followers and instagram is my main social network
    i cant loose it
    i also dont want to reset my device or jailbreak it
    im so sorry about your account
    i wish instagram had a working email
    i wish they could be more understanding

  16. August 20th, 2013 | 11:46 pm

    Yeah, Instagram killed me.

  17. April 5th, 2014 | 9:35 am

    I’m hoping when I buy a new phone I will be able to get back on Instagram I was banned 3 years ago for posting nudity or more to the point masturbation pics I had over 1K followers each submitting their pics 99% were women with amazing squirt pics I lost all contacts I tried re establishing my site on Stream Zoo but they went down in March. I see no reason why there cannot be an adult/Sex/Nudity version for us users I feel your pain.

  18. May 30th, 2014 | 8:42 am

    This morning after receiving 6 emails in a row instagram TOTALY banned access to my account. I am a photographer too and nothing really sexual, mostly artistic black and white of fashion models nothing pornographic really !!. A few pictures have tits I apologie to the big instagram inquisitor IS THIS JUST FOR THAT !!
    I SEE tits like maternity, life, sensuality
    Alsow religions always show tits ( except Muslims ) in church since many centuries ….I don’t get the point there !!

    No way to complain and change anything. I was on IG for 2 months and reported all IG photos to FB and tumblr but IG was really my active place and I started to have a lot of followers :( I google that an I see big photographer like Mario sorrenti banned to !!! Stupid people !!

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