In February 2019, Out magazine reported that photographer Tom Bianchi had been locked out of his Instagram account because he’d posted a polaroid photograph of the back of a nude man sitting on a bed, his butt barely visible. “On Saturday morning I woke up to find that my Instagram account had been removed in its entirety for violating ‘Community Guidelines,’” he told Out. After artists, fans, and his husband posted their concerns on Instagram, Bianchi’s account—and the previously offending post—was reactivated.

Sex-tech startups Dame Products and Unbound protested Facebook, the company that owns Instagram, in July 2019 for continually rejecting their ads and reporting their posts despite their content being much less sexual than those of male-focused brands like HimsShadowbanning, a hotly-contested term used to describe Instagram’s algorithm allegedly deprioritizing certain Instagram posts or accounts, has been rightfully critiqued for harming marginalized people. Womenqueer people, and sex workers have begun leaving Instagram entirely, saying it’s becoming increasingly difficult to build community on a platform with vague guidelines about what’s allowed. (Instagram’s policy about nipples has caused a lot of controversy, for instance). Queer Black influencer and YouTuber Ari Fitz, whose Instagram bio read, “HE/HER/DADDY,”ditched the platform, leaving behind nearly 140,000 followers. Her final post, captioned, “been fun, @instagram,” features a blurred post of Ari posing while topless, her arms covering her chest. A swipe on the post reveals a screenshot of Instagram’s notice to Fitz that the original post had been removed for violating the platform’s “nudity or sexual activity” policy.

On her final post, Fitz cropped the photo closer to her chest to showcase just how difficult it is to see her nipples, which, she assumes, is why Instagram blocked the image. The top comment on the post reads, “i follow a white [woman] who posts herself completely naked with 2 little scribbles over her nipples. and her posts are still up. bullshit.” (White models and influencers like Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski have “poked fun” at Instagram’s no-female-nipples policy.). I interviewed Fitz about her decision to leave Instagram and if Instagram’s community guidelines are specifically targeting queer people of color.

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Ari Fitz on how Instagram fails Queer black creators by Rachel Charlene Lewis

Aug 15th, 2019