An Activist Writes, “Instagram Censored One Of These Photos But Not The Other. We Must Ask Why.” Isn’t It Obvious Why?

Instagram censorship

Why did Instagram censor one photo and not the other? Easy-peasy:

1. Social media is constantly engaged in mind control. It doesn’t understand satire, and it is especially hostile to any satire of its core market, in the case of Instagram, young, heterosexual women.

2. Human beings and their societies favors the young and beautiful over the not young and less-than-beautiful, and no amount of complaining and protesting is going to change that. Call it “systemic lookism.”

3. Trusting social media to be fair or intelligent is naïve and foolish.

The back-story: Last week Australian comic Celeste Barber posted a parody images of her imitating a post from former Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel.  Instagram censored it, saying that it “goes against our community guidelines on nudity or sexual activity” The identical pose of the conventionally alluring Swanepoel, however, was deemed just fine when it was posted. The Horror!

The “gotcha!” worked;  Instagram  apologized and restored Barber’s version.


  • It’s a Pyrrhic victory at best. Social media has far too much power to mold public values and sensibilities, and those who run it do not have the wisdom, perspective or intelligence to use handle such power responsibly.
  • Instagram particularly, and social media generally, is designed for narcissists, and indeed feeds and magnifies narcissism. I have a quickly lapsing Facebook friend who must post four or five photos of herself every day. She’s an attractive woman, but this is pathological.
  • Reality check: the two photos aren’t “the same”; they are materially different, and it’s dishonest to pretend otherwise. I am reminded of a sexual harassment controversy on a staff I was in charge of years ago. A male staffer sparked complaints because he had a photo of his wife, a swimsuit model, in a particularly skimpy outfit in his cubicle. Several women said the photo the workplace a hostile environment. The staffer protested: Would he get the same reaction if his wife was 50 pounds overweight and had the face of a horse? Good point, I said.

And I told him to keep photos of his wife in anything but a Gore-Tex jacket off his desk. Eventually I banned all photos of family and friends in the common area.

You can read the activist’s lament here.

8 thoughts on “An Activist Writes, “Instagram Censored One Of These Photos But Not The Other. We Must Ask Why.” Isn’t It Obvious Why?

  1. I have an Instagram account, but I haven’t posted a picture of myself on it yet. I’m a way better photographer than I am model. Yes, social media does feed self-importance, I post some of my writing from here there and vice versa, but in the end I know I’m not that important.

    I take exception with what you did wrt photos. I’ve never been married, as you know. However, if I had a family you can bet I’d have a picture (emphasis A, as in one) of them on my desk. If you told me I had to hide it I’d tell you “No, I will not do that. These are the most important people in my life and the reasons I’m working here.”

    • I think the key part is “particularly skimpy outfit.” I would never think of having a photo of my wife like that at work. It sounds a bit like a show-off – a passive way to brag about how hot his wife is.

      • Steve takes exception to banning all family photos, not just photos with skimpy attire, which was Jack ultimately did at that workplace.

        I tend to agree with that banning all photos goes too far.

        • 1. In common areas. Employees with offices were not subject to the ban.

          2. There was no apparent way to draw lines that our resident activists wouldn’t contrive to find offense with. “Hostile” is subjective. One female employee, a fashion nut (and I suspect gay) actually had glossies of sexy models that were not relatives. One woman had a boy friend who was a competitive body builder, and wanted to display competition photos. Another had a well-endowed dad in a speedo.

          3. That slope was too slippery for me.

  2. “Would he get the same reaction if his wife was 50 pounds overweight and had the face of a horse?”

    We all know THAT would be met with disingenuous wink-wink-nudge-nudge “what beautiful teeth” comments.

    But it reminded me of the Gillette Commercial depicting plus-size/body positivity/fat accepting model Anna Go Out There And Slay The Day O’Brian rockin’ it, on which EA did a piece.

    A while back, former regular commenter Wyoming Granny (you out there, Granny?) made the astute observation: “Should looks matter? No. Do they matter? Yes.”

    FWIW; think twice about pairing “plus size model” and “rockin’ it” in your google search criteria; I may never quite recover from the…um…selection of targeted ads I must now endure…

    • I too miss wyogranny, who promised she would be lurking when she officially withdrew from commenting three years ago, saying,

      I’m going to take a break from commenting. I hope a permanent break. I deeply appreciate many of the commenters here. I’ve learned a lot. I have a lot to learn. I’ll be following this blog and reading everything here because it helps me clarify my thinking, but I have nothing of substance to contribute.
      Thank you to everyone.

  3. The same thing occurred when an episode of Thw Walking Dead featured two characters nude from the side who were not “model quality”. Viewers said they objected because of the characters, but they were really turned off by the realistic portrayal of two naked people.

  4. I don’t get the “Would he get the same reaction if his wife was 50 pounds overweight and had the face of a horse?”

    I think he would get the same reaction wouldn’t he? Maybe there would be even more complaints. Did he think he was only getting complaints because his wife was attractive?

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