Instagram's 'nudity' rules don't keep kids safe
Recently Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri was questioned by online celebrity news group The Shade Room over the removal of a live post, hosted by Tory Lanez' 'Quarantine Radio' account. In his response Mosseri stated:
the lives have been great..but you can't have nudity on Instagram - it's part of our community guidelines, it's part of the rules, and we can't make exceptions. And on a couple of those lives..there was nudity, so we had to stop the live, and there's a short period of time when you can't go live again..we have to stick to the rules otherwise, why do we have them?
You can hear Mosseri's full response here:
The response came on the same day the New York Times reported on an influx of strip club performers moving to Instagram in the wake of COVID-19 stripclub shutdowns.
Critics were quick to point out the fact that Instagram hosts 'nudity' on a grand scale, a fact which means that Instagram's large, young-teen and even pre-teen user base has a plethora of sexualised and pornographic content at its fingertips.
What does Mosseri's claim that 'you can't post nudity to Instagram' even mean? Our investigation into Instagram's widespread child exploitation and predator problem has shown that not only can 'nudity' be posted but it is done so frequently, in ways that exploit children, and without moderation, removal or consequence. Before COVID-19 moderators only removed about half of the content we reported, even when it contained child nudity or other exploitative activity involving a child. After the COVID-19 pandemic was declared we were told repeatedly by Instagram's moderators that they couldn't review our reports at all - not even when our reports were about adults who exposed their genitals to little girls - because they were 'only able to review content with the most potential for harm'. Why didn't the 'nudity' rules apply then? And why - at a time when experts warned about the increased risks for kids from online predators - didn't the actual exploitation of children rate as a priority for Instagram's moderators? (Instagram has since changed the wording of its non-response to "We can't prioritize all reports right now", but we have continued to receive knockbacks to our reports.)
In the past week alone we've reported 25 Instagram accounts to the Australian Federal Police for dissemminating, viewing, soliciting, trading and even selling child exploitation material. Some of the content contained explicit child nudity.
Last month we reported a case of a man using Instagram to expose his genitals and perform a live sex act at an underage girl during her live post. In the same week we reported a 9 year old girl who was victimised by several men in the same way to Instagram leaders. Our report was sent to the safety team and the girl's account was removed immediately. Instagram's mandatory reporting requirements meant that Instagram was then obliged to report the case to authorities. We have evidence that the same offender from our earlier report to the AFP also victimised the second girl, but six weeks later this repeat offender is still active on Instagram, using the same account. We counted over 150 underage girls' accounts in his 'Following' list. How many of them have also been a victim of his sex abuse crimes? Is Instagram interupting his participation in live posts because of nudity the way they interupted Tory Lanez'? Will he - or the other offenders - ever be held to account for their crimes? Will Instagram continue to allow him to roam free, posting 'nudity' in a criminal way to children with impunity?
Instagram's Community Guidelines don't keep kids safe, and neither do empty claims from its leaders. We need its leaders to take urgent action to demonstrate that there really is no place for material that harms children on their platform.
- Report suspected online child exploitation material to the eSafety Office.
- Report adults behaving inappropriately toward a child to the Australian Federal Police.
- Make an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers or phone their toll free number 1800 333 000.