The Community Guidelines on many social media platforms remain vague and overly restrictive of artistic expression, especially when art contains nudity. The Don’t Delete Art campaign urges social media platforms to recognize and respect artwork in the language and enforcement of community guidelines. This resource center offers guidance about how to understand and work around existing community guidelines when publishing art on social media platforms. This information is sourced from published community guidelines and resources from Instagram and Facebook, as well as from artists’ direct experiences with social media censorship.
If you have any further questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will do our best to answer them. If you believe your work was wrongfully taken down, please be sure that you have exhausted all avenues for appeal before contacting us. Click here for appeal information.
Tips for Before You Post Your Work
Hashtags and Downranking:
Although not a technical term used by Instagram, an Instagram Shadowban or “Downranking” is the reduced visibility of “borderline content,” or inappropriate or questionable content that does not violate the Community Guidelines or terms of service. This may entail your post not being shown on the “Explore” page or having certain hashtags removed from your post, minimizing its potential reach. Even if specific content does not explicitly violate the Instagram Community Guidelines, a post may be downranked if it is deemed unsuitable for a wide, global audience.
What you can do:
- Avoid using restricted, “banned ”or deactivated hashtags, such as #nudity, #milf, and an ever-changing list of others, as they can limit your potential audience.
- Instagram will not notify you if you use a hashtag that is restricted. To see if a hashtag is banned, search for the hashtag on Instagram. If there are no “Top Posts” and instead only some of the most recent posts, the hashtag is likely banned. You can also find a list of banned hashtags here.
- If you realize that you used a restricted hashtag, you can edit your post and remove the restricted hashtag (you do not need to remove other hashtags).
- You can contact Instagram Support for help by clicking: Profile > Menu > Settings > Help > Report a Problem.
- Be sure to mention that your posts are not reaching all of your followers or are not maximizing their potential reach, rather than mentioning a shadowban (as this is not an official term).
Why and How to Contextualize Non-Photographic Art:
It is important to contextualize your art when it falls in a category that is acceptable by community guidelines but may be mistaken for a banned category – i.e. photo-realistic art or photographic nudity that is used in the context of protest (as photo-realistic art and photographic nudity in the context of protest are acceptable according to the community guidelines). Effectively contextualizing your work will help an algorithm or human to view your work as acceptable according to the guidelines, therefore minimizing the likelihood of your content being unjustly censored.
- Add clues that allude to the work’s medium or purpose – making clear the work is a painting of a nude and not a photograph, or that it is a political protest, etc. – to help minimize the likelihood of content being unjustly censored. For instance, there could be a pencil or paintbrush laying on top of the work.
- Consider the context of the other works you are posting on your account and make sure it reflects the nature of your artistic practice:
- For example, if you post more images of paintings, then it is more likely that your work will be considered to be a painting. In the case of protest art, if you post material relating to the subject of protest, it is more likely that an image containing nudes as a form of protest would be interpreted correctly.
- Add captions and descriptions of the work posted.
- It is most important for Facebook or Instagram to see any type of caption that refers to the artwork’s medium, especially if the work is non-photographic, yet photorealistic.
- If your art is used in the context of political or social protest, be sure to explicitly demonstrate this context through accompanying text and captions.
- Use neutral terms like “art” and “painting” rather than phrases that allude to nudity or sexually explicit content.
Self-Censorship & Pixelation:
Some artists prefer using pixelation whereas some prefer blurring. Use which is best for you and your work. When censoring your work (with opaqueness, pixelation, or any kind of overlaid image/black box), it is important to fully obscure the body part you are censoring. For example, if obscuring a nipple, the areola must be obscured as well.
Properly censored breast
and pubic areas:
“Propuesta de orgía para
los seres cósmicos”
© Carlota Guerrero
Properly censored nipples:
© Carlota Guerrero
Properly censored pubic area: “♾”
© Carlota Guerrero
Proper Image of Buttocks:
“Atlantic City, New Jersey”
© Spencer Tunick, 1994
Properly Censored Buttocks:
“End of an Era”
© Savannah Spirit, 2018
Images of nude buttocks from a closer perspective are acceptable only if they are properly censored. However, images of uncensored nude buttocks from farther away are acceptable.
Censor Apps and Tools
These apps are free on the iOS and Google Play App Stores and are helpful for properly censoring your work so that it abides by community guidelines.
Nudity on Facebook & Instagram:
- What is permitted, though some of these categories are age restricted to over-18:
- Nudity as a form of protest
- Nudity for educational or medical reasons
- Nudity to raise awareness about a cause (i.e. breast cancer awareness, post-mastectomy photos, breast-feeding)
- Visible genitalia or the anus only in context of birth and after-birth moments or health-related situations (but warning label will be included)
- Paintings, sculptures, and other non-photographic art depicting nude figures
- Real world art (non-photographic art) that depicts sexual activity
- Posting photographs or videos of objects that depict sexual activity in real world (non-photographic) art
- Implied sexual activity in advertisements
- Implied sexual activity in recognized fictional images or with indicators of fiction
- Digital content that meets our definition of sexual activity, where:
- The sexual activity (intercourse or other sexual activities) isn’t directly visible
- Content was posted in a satirical or humorous context
- Only body shapes or contours are visible
- What is not permitted:
- Visible genitalia except for birth or health-related situations
- Visible anus and/or fully nude close-ups of buttocks “unless photoshopped on a public figure”
- Uncovered female-presenting nipples except in contexts listed above
- Real nude adults, where nudity is defined as:
- Visible genitalia except in the context of birth giving and after-birth moments or health-related situations (for example, gender confirmation surgery, examination for cancer or disease prevention/assessment)
- Visible anus and/or fully nude close-ups of buttocks unless photoshopped on a public figure
- Uncovered female nipples except in the context of breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health-related situations (for example, post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness or gender confirmation surgery) or an act of protest
- Sexual activity, including
- Sexual intercourse
- Explicit sexual intercourse, defined as mouth or genitals entering or in contact with another person’s genitals or anus, where at least one person’s genitals are nude
- Implied sexual intercourse, defined as mouth or genitals entering or in contact with another person’s genitals or anus, even when the contact is not directly visible, except in cases of a sexual health context, advertisements, and recognized fictional images or with indicators of fiction
- Implied stimulation of genitalia/anus, defined as stimulating genitalia/anus or inserting objects into genitalia/anus, even when the activity is not directly visible, except in cases of sexual health context, advertisements, and recognized fictional images or with indicators of fiction
- Sexual intercourse
- Other sexual activities including (but not limited to)
- Presence of by-products of sexual activity
- Stimulating genitals or anus, even if above or under clothing
- Use of sex toys, even if above or under clothing
- Stimulation of naked human nipples
- Squeezing female breasts, defined as a grabbing motion with curved fingers that shows both marks and clear shape change of the breasts. We allow squeezing in breastfeeding contexts
- Fetish content that involves:
- Acts that are likely to lead to the death of a person or animal
- Feces, urine, spit, snot, menstruation, or vomit
- Digital content that meets Facebook’s definition of sexual activity, except when posted in an educational or scientific context, or when it meets one of the criteria listed above and shown only to individuals 18 years and older.
What to do if you think your account is in danger of being deleted:
While FB offers account status which provides users with information regarding their past violations (including the penalty and rationale behind issuing the violation, as well as what result a future violation would yield, such as an account removal), IG does not offer this feature as yet. However, if you have had multiple posts removed in a short period of time because they have violated community standards, your account may be at a higher risk of being deleted.
What you can do:
- Take a break from Instagram, or refrain from posting images that could violate community standards for a while.
- If your removed posts did not violate community guidelines, do appeal their removal so they do not count against you. Learn more about how to appeal here.