LIFESTYLE

#Curvy Is Back: Instagram Unblock Hashtag After Removing It Due To 'Inappropriate Content'

24/07/2015 10:43 BST | Updated 24/07/2015 13:59 BST

Last week, positive body image campaigners were up in arms after it was revealed that Instagram had blocked the hashtag #Curvy.

The hashtag had been disabled along with others including #Thinspo, which glorifies emaciated frames in a bid to inspire others to lose weight, because it collated "inappropriate content" such as pornography.

Now, after a tidal wave of complaints, Instagram has backtracked and have reinstated the hashtag.

"We want people to be able to express themselves, and hashtags are a great way to do that," a spokesperson for Instagram said in a statement.

curvy woman

"At the same time, we have a responsibility to act when we see hashtags being used to spread inappropriate content to our community.

"In the case of #curvy, we don’t like putting restrictions around a term that many people use in very positive ways, so we have decided to unblock the hashtag while taking steps to ensure that it's not used as a vehicle for bad content."

Although, when you try to search for content on the hashtag (which appears to have in excess of 2 million tagged photos), no photos are available.

instagram curvy

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle a spokesperson for Instagram explained that the site is currently developing tools and methods to "curate" appropriate #curvy images.

Many critics have criticised Instagram's censorship policy, citing pornographic sites or hashtags that remain easily searchable.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Instagram's director of public policy, Nicky Jackson Colaco, provides a possible explanation as to why some sexually-explicit content remains on the site unblocked. This, she says, may be because users searching specifically for pornography are less likely to report an image than those who stumble across inappropriate content on a more widely-used hashtag such as #curvy.

"This wasn't curvy pornography, this was just irrelevant pornography [that employed the hashtag]," Jackson Colaco said.

Instagram's spokesperson told HuffPost UK Lifestyle that there are plans to use the aforementioned curation tools to tackle pornographic images across the site. But in terms of priorities, #curvy is the first hashtag to be cleaned up - #vaginas and #pornostar will have to wait.

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Model Stefania Ferrario, who started the #DropThePlus hashtag to stop women being labelled plus-size, told HuffPost UK Lifestyle that she was "disappointed" by the tag's removal.

"'Curvy' is a word that has culturally positive connotations with regard to the female body, unlike the term 'plus size', which suggests a woman is bigger than she should be. By banning 'curvy' they removed an empowering tag for women," she said.

Ferrario said that restrictions around sex and nudity cause "more harm to society than good".

"I don't think there should be any censorship or hashtag bans on Instagram or Facebook at all. As a result of the hashtag bans, people use the wrong hashtags to share porn. On Twitter for example, which is totally liberal in this regard, you don't come across porn unless you want to, but with Instagram you constantly come across it, whether you want to or not. Instagram leaves up hashtags that encourage gun use, violence and eating disorders what's their hangup with sex and nudity?

"The rather speedy reinstatement of the tag perhaps shows that it was a bad move in the first place. I'm sure they received a barrage of complaints from the many fans of the term.

"Or perhaps Instagram simply loves the publicity they garner when they remove and reinstate tags."

Stefania Ferrario

Artist and activist Sam Roddick who had her Instagram account permanently deleted for posting "unacceptable content" (read: a cornice shaped like a vagina, not an actual vagina) believes that there are inconsistencies when it comes to the site's censorship.

Speaking at a panel discussion on social media and the arts last week, Roddick queried why her images had been removed, while hashtags such as #vaginas, which hosts explicit pornographic images, remains permitted.

"Clearly it is unrealistic for Instagram to fully control or really be fully responsible for what people post - however I am disturbed by what Instagram are actually choosing to disallow and images they are censoring - they are showing that as a company their philosophy is emotionally and intellectually unhealthy and psychologically damaging towards women," she told HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"They have banned images of breast feeding, stretch marks, domestic images of menstruation and classical art works that respectfully portray nude women and now they ban the hashtag #curvy. While they allow bitch, fat slag, hookers, thin - this is not a safe platform for women and especially young girls (as we all know Instagram is populated with nude images of young women effectively selling themselves sexually)."

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Poorna Bell, executive editor for HuffPost UK, called the move to disable #curvy "baffling".

"In recent months, Instagram has been home to an incredible body confidence movement that was created by and for plus size and #curvy women," she said.

"These women were able to reclaim their bodies and spread messages to women who are used to being bombarded with the usual Amazonian, Photoshopped bodies.

"#EffYourBeautyStandards, Mumbod - these all tried to subvert beauty standards in the most collaborative, global way. Why on earth Instagram would want to stifle that is utterly baffling."

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Roddick added: "My issue is not with what Instagram is allowing, my issues is what the site is not allowing. It is so important that platforms like Instagram get behind positive self and sexual expression - body hair, gender representation, body shapes and all the realities of being human.

"Embracing who we are in our wide diversity is where media is heading so Instagram better change or people will feel misrepresented and it will become another Porn Hub."