Some Instagram users have received notifications that claim they have violated the app’s Community Guidelines and will no longer be able to use link stickers — a decision that financially harms creators and artists, particularly those in the adult industry.
Problematically, some users are reporting that the reason Instagram is punishing them is cited as content that does not appear to violate any guidelines. The lack of the ability to appeal has made the process particularly frustrating and financially devastating for users who rely on the platform to drive engagement to other sites.
Many creators rely on the Link Stickers, which recently replaced the swipe-up links, to direct the audience to external sites and platforms where they can make money through digital sales and other promotions. However, according to a report on Vice ,this week some users received a message that explained this option will be taken away from them because the users had shared content that violated Instagram’s Community Guidelines.
Many Instagram users saw a notification that if they have violated the platform’s Community Guidelines in the past, they will no longer be allowed to use links in Stories. https://t.co/fgjnqkSuwg
— Motherboard (@motherboard) October 19, 2021
Many of those who first started speaking out about this were creators in the adult industry who suspect Instagram is disabling them from using the feature because of adult content that they post on other sites.
“For a very long time now (about 3 years) IG has been working on ways to force sex workers, erotic artists, and queer creators off of its platform,” Annie Brown, founder of Lips, an alternative social media app for women, non-binary people, the LGBTQIA+ community and their fans tells Vice.
Brown is one of the users who has received the notification that she will not be able to use link stickers — a decision that cannot be appealed.
Brown explains that the discrimination further seeps into Instagram’s recent actions to remove swipe-up links to subscription sites like OnlyFans, followed by removal of posts that use hashtags like “sex, sexy, lesbian, gay, by, body live, body positive, and trans.”
Although sex workers and models helped build Instagram to the success it is today, they are one of the first ones to be negatively impacted by these changes.
“If IG has the power to remove access to certain features that directly impact your income/business, the very least they could do is ensure that their moderation process is fair, consistent and unbiased,” erotic artist Exotic Cancer tells Vice about the confusing and often contradictory moderation decisions made by the app.
Are you seriously going to delete my link sticker because I posted a childhood picture with my dad in the swimming pool a few months ago?! This is outrageous!! You’re playing with my career and income
— Mojiste (@Mojistelife) October 20, 2021
Many creators and artists rely on Instagram to share their work and earn money from it, however, their needs are overlooked.
“Our means of making a living aren’t ‘mainstream’ enough and it seems to agitate advertisers who partner with these sites,” explains Thomas J. Allie, an adult content creator who promotes her work on the app.
Other artists and photographers have also received the same message, and sometimes for content that has been flagged that isn’t explicit, and questionable as to if it violates Instagram’s community guidelines.
Instagram is taking away thousands of creators link stickers for violating community guidelines. What?! This is my livelihood pic.twitter.com/98SDfF6Sf1
— beth johnson (@bethjoh33636757) October 19, 2021
“All in all I believe there is a HUGE problem within Instagram’s moderation process,” Exotic Cancer says. “The discrimination is unreal. Sex-positive female creators seem to be targeted disproportionally, constantly violating the guidelines wrongfully and unfairly.”
“As part of our efforts to limit the spread of harmful content that violates our Community Guidelines, we’ll restrict people who have repeatedly or severely violated these policies from using the link sticker,” Instagram responded. “However, we’re investigating an issue where people may have mistakenly been notified that they will be restricted, and we’re working on resolving this as soon as possible.”
Instagram is still a powerful tool for artists and creatives across various industries, but this particular situation is an example of why, especially now, it is smart to diversify outside of the app and rely on it less. As Facebook comes under greater scrutiny over the safety of its users, the company is likely to continue to clamp down on anything that it perceives as putting the business in a negative light.
Image credits: Header photo licensed from Depositphotos.