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    Ginger Banks

    Instagram Keeps Purging Accounts of Porn Stars Even After They Spoke to Company Reps in Person

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    The devaluation of adult films – many of which make their way to free sites shortly after release – has driven many porn stars to seek fans via Instagram, but the social media platform’s vague nudity guidelines are apparently being arbitrarily interpreted so as to take down hundreds of provocative accounts.

    Over a thousand adult performers have seen their precious Instagram accounts de-activated for allegedly violating community standards, despite claims that they were careful not to do so.

    Alana Evans, an American porn star who chairs the federally-recognised Adult Performers Actors Guild, told the BBC she has collected a list of over 1,300 performers who maintain that their accounts have been deleted despite being in line with the guidelines around nudity and sexual solicitation.

    Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, restricts “sexually explicit language that may lead to solicitation” as well as “the display of nudity or sexual activity.”

    The reason why sex workers value their accounts so much is that casting agents look at the size of their online audience, while Instagram is also a means to develop one’s own brand and lure fans to a custom pay-to-watch platform.

    Alana Evans believes that Instagram “discriminates against us because they don't like what we do for a living.”

    The crack-down on adult performers was seemingly started in late 2018 by an anonymous person or a group of people known only by their Twitter handle ‘Omid’.

    According to an April 2019 piece by the feminist website Jezebel, Omid is a man who calls himself a “victim” of pornography and seeks the eventual exodus of each and every porn star, regardless of gender, from Instagram and other monetised platforms.

    Adult performer Ginger Banks claims to have been one of the first victims of the campaign; her Instagram account with over 300,000 followers got deleted following Omid’s complaint.

    “I’ve never posted explicit images on Instagram. But even a picture of me wearing leggings could be extremely provocative to someone, and worthy of being reported,” Banks told the BBC. “We’re letting these businesses determine what is art and what is pornography, and then punish us.”

    Alana Evans conveyed the industry workers’ complaints to Instagram and had a meeting with the platform’s representatives in June this year, where they agreed to set up a new system that allowed the removed stars to appeal and restore their accounts.

    However, she said, the talks halted, and Instagram kept deleting the accounts of adult performers. The company even removed the account of porn star Jessica Jaymes for an unknown reason after she was found dead at her home in September. Her account with 900,000 followers has since been reinstated.

    The anti-porn campaigner Omid is still active and regularly provides evidence on Twitter that Instagram reports the suggestive accounts he had reported. Often, he accompanies the tweets with hashtags like #no_porn and #no_pornstar.

    Apart from sex workers, censored are the people who share sexual content without thinking about sexual solicitation. One woman, an artist, had her account banned (later reinstated) over  a photo from an New York exhibition of queer sex work; another, a pole dancer, said that Instagram had scrubbed hashtags related with pole dancing this summer but reversed its policy after she complained.

    A Facebook spokesperson said that they take action if the content reported to them breaks the rules regarding nudity and sexual solicitation. “We give people the opportunity to appeal the decision and will reinstate content if we mistakenly remove something."

    In the April story by Jezabel, an Instagram spokesperson was quoted as saying that most of the accounts in question were “correctly removed for violating our sexual solicitation policies.” However, they also found that “a small number were removed in error” and subsequently restored.

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