Instagram changes policy on nudity and 'breast-squeezing' after campaign by plus-size Black model
- Instagram has amended its rules around nudity following a campaign from a Black plus-sized model whose photos were taken down.
- Nyome Nicholas-Williams started campaigning in August — she pointed out that her images were taken down but images of "very naked, skinny white women" remained on Instagram.
- Instagram said Monday it had incorrectly applied its rules on "breast squeezing" to Nicholas-Williams' images, and said it was adding some more nuance to those rules.
- Instagram and Facebook will now allow any images where someone is "simply hugging, cupping or holding their breasts."
- It will still ban photos where people are grasping their breasts "in a grabbing motion with bent fingers or if there is a clear change in the shape of the breasts."
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Instagram has added some nuance to its rules around what constitutes nudity, after being campaigned for three months by a model who said the platform was censoring her images.
Nyome Nicholas-Williams, a plus-sized Black model from the UK, started campaigning in August after images of her from a photoshoot were repeatedly taken down.
She noted that while Instagram took down her images for allegedly breaking nudity rules, she saw lots of equivalently unclothed — or even more naked — images of thin, white women on the platform.
"Millions of pictures of very naked, skinny white women can be found on Instagram every day," she told the Observer at the time. "But a fat black woman celebrating her body is banned? It was shocking to me. I feel like I'm being silenced."
Her campaign became a hashtag, #IWantToSeeNyome, and Instagram has now responded with a policy change.
Instagram said Monday that after investigating, it found its policy on "breast squeezing" had been inappropriately applied to Nicholas-Williams' images. "Hearing her feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it," an Instagram spokesperson told Business Insider.
"With the new update, we'll allow content where someone is simply hugging, cupping or holding their breasts. And, if there's any doubt, we'll ask that reviewers allow the content to stay up.
"We do have to draw the line somewhere 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. This policy will apply across Instagram and Facebook," the spokesperson said.
"This is a huge step and I am glad a dialogue has now been opened," Nicholas-Williams said in a statement to the Observer. "I want to ensure that I am respected and allowed to use spaces like Instagram, as many other creators do, without the worry of being censored and silenced."
Nicholas-Williams also welcomed the announcement in a post on her Instagram account. "Hopefully this policy change will bring an end to the censorship of fat black bodies."
WE FUCKING DID IT!! @ginamartin @alex_cameron and I...we changed an Instagram policy! Look what happens when three women set out to change the world! We have put our heart and souls into this campaign and to see it come to fruition is insane! The observer newspaper (which is out today) has covered the campaign from the beginning and have written another article which highlights the hard work Gina, Alex and I have done (although it states they launched the campaign) this is in fact not the case as Gina, Alex and myself strategised for three months to ensure a change would happen. Hang tight for the full details of the policy change, as I will be detailing more information soon. We worked very hard on this and managed to get Instagram and @mosseri attention and there's still a lot of work to be done, as black plus sized women continue to be censored in many ways; and white women STILL tried to hijack and make it their campaign. There is of course a huge racial imbalance in the algorithm that still exists as white bodies are promoted and don't have to worry about censorship of their posts but black bodies still have to justify presence on the platform, this has also been brought to Instagrams attention! But when we put our minds to it... we can achieve literally ANYTHING!! I’d like to thank the 16 amazing humans that put their names to our open letter and that helped us push our campaign forward! The Instagram policy changes on the 28th, it outlines the difference between 'breast holding' or 'cupping' which is a celebration of body and 'breast grabbing' which is deemed to be pornographic, these images are censored to protect underage users but this policy change should allow them to better differentiate self expression/ art from pornographic content. Hopefully this policy change will bring an end to the censorship of fat black bodies. The last three have been absolutely wild to say the least but we move and move things we did! ??????
She added that Instagram still needed to do more.
"There's still a lot of work to be done, as black plus sized women continue to be censored in many ways; and white women STILL tried to hijack and make it their campaign.
"There is of course a huge racial imbalance in the algorithm that still exists as white bodies are promoted and don't have to worry about censorship of their posts but black bodies still have to justify presence on the platform," Nicholas-Williams wrote.
Instagram created a new internal team to examine racial bias on its platform in July after it received complaints from under-represented groups that they were being unfairly targeted by its moderation policies.
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