It’s become mainstream to try to embody your favourite model in photographs. You can’t scroll through a social media feed for long without seeing someone who takes that to the extreme. For whatever reason, some people decide that they should publicly display as much flesh as possible and this can cause a lot of controversy. Things are said, people get hurt and rules get made as a result to stop people getting hurt in the future.

Even though people are free to take whatever photos surrounding their personal selves they choose and have the same freedom to share these images online there is always going to be an argument about which photos are offensive because different things upset different people. Websites can never be completely secure with the content they provide due to this but nevertheless no matter who you are, where you’re from or what you look like if you have an Internet connection and a camera you can post images online.7448717958_1738735d85_b

Social media is a great way to share images with your friends and followers, but you aren’t always completely free in what you can upload. Sometimes sites such as Facebook and Instagram remove content for infringing on set guidelines- however these removals aren’t always clearly just. Instagram, for example, has recently gotten itself into hot water for blocking images that supposedly break obscenity rules in their community guidelines. It’s all well and good to have guidelines to stop explicitly vile content being viewable or sharable online, but the kind of pictures we’re talking about depict nothing more than stretch marks, (non-revealing) pubic hair, a plus-sized underwear selfie and a jumper with some half naked people on it. We live in a day and age where these things aren’t at all uncommon to see so why were they taken down?

Anything and everything offends people and undoubtedly there are a select few that go as far as reporting images like these instead of just blocking the user or choosing not to look at the image, but isn’t it up to Instagram itself to decide if claims against images are justified? It can be argued that these incidents come down to more of an unspoken set of social rules rather than ones of clear obscenity. There are god knows how many skin-baring images on Instagram, some more revealing and provocative than those that have been removed, so why keep them and ditch these few if not out of social preference? In blocking images that aren’t objectively offensive and just socially divergent from the preferred criteria, Instagram indirectly promotes different kinds of social thought on appearance and personality.  Doesn’t this make issues such as bullying and self-confidence worse? Everyone should feel like they belong on social media sites and be able to be himself or herself and doing things like this makes that difficult for people to do.

Katherine Hardiman 


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