On Monday Instagram held a closed-door discussion in New York with 20 artists, curators, and activists over its current moderation policies regarding nudity and artworks.
The private discussion, which included both prominent and emerging artists and museum leaders, took place in the wake of protests and petitions from artists who have alleged that their work has been censored by the image-sharing platform, which is owned by Facebook.
For photographers who work with nudity, posting on Instagram can feel like playing a game of Russian roulette. The company gives no warning before removing photographs—and entire accounts—it deems in violation of the Community Guidelines, which infamously ban “some photos of female nipples,” restrict frontal nudity but tolerate images of the “buttocks” if photographed from a distance. The platform makes exceptions for images of painting and sculpture; many photographers are pushing for “artistic” nudity in their medium to be allowed, too.
Possible outcomes from the meetings are not yet clear, but the hope of many artists is that the talks lead to policy changes. Artist Joanne Leah told ArtNews “They have concerns about photographs being pornographic but I think they are completely eliminating photography as an art form.’
Stephanie Otway, a Facebook spokesperson, said “Today was about meeting with the community in the art world to understand their feedback. A lot of their feedback is based around our nudity policies, so we definitely felt it was a constructive day for us to think about how these policies evolve and develop in the future. I think it’s the start of a conversation between us and the art community.”