Public Nudity in an Age of Instagram
Actress Scout Willis recently had her Instagram account suspended for posting a photograph of two semi-naked women. She took to Twitter to announce her boycott of Instagram, tweeting:
“@instagram there is no way 2 contact you directly, I would really appreciate response b/c you took a lot of memories from me b/c u h8 nips”
She then decided to walk topless around New York to demonstrate her opposition to the rules. She used her Twitter account to post pictures of herself walking through Manhattan and buying groceries wearing only a skirt and shoes, writing that it is “legal in NYC but not on @instagram”.
Her protest got a lot of support, with #FreeTheNipple trending on Twitter. Singer Rihanna also decided to boycott Instagram when some of her own photos were removed. In a blog post, Willis said that for every “nasty” message she had received, there were “10 more of support, appreciation, and empowerment”. Instagram’s policy on nudity has been described as “disproportionate”; it does not allow any pictures of female breasts, even if they are of breast feeding mothers or breast cancer patients.
The account was later reactivated, with Instagram stating that they “try hard to find a good balance between allowing people to express themselves creatively and keeping Instagram a fun and safe place.” Scout Willis responded by tweeting “they gave it back, but I don’t want it…..”
Despite the fact that censorship of online pornography is becoming much tighter, the #FreeTheNipple campaign is making it increasingly hard for companies like Instagram to maintain their policies on nudity. It is unlikely to be long before social networks have to face the choice of either allowing photographs of both male and female breasts, or banning pictures of both.
Bio: I am a fourteen year old school student who enjoys learning about technology, innovation and change. I live in Manchester, United Kingdom.