Porn stars, artists, and sex workers protest at Instagram's HQ in opposition of the company's rules about nudity

Light Rocket / Getty ImagesAdult performers are protesting Instagram for deleting their accounts
  • Sex workers, artists, and porn stars planned to protest outside of Instagram’s Menlo Park HQ and New York City office on Wednesday in opposition of what they say are often wrongful deletions of their Instagram profiles.
  • The bi-coastal #instaSTRIKE was organised by the Adult Performers Actors Guild, which says it intends to spearhead a class-action lawsuit accusing Instagram of “blatant discrimination of legal workers across the world.”
  • Instagram announced in March that it would be putting a blurred screen over sensitive content – posts that were reported by the community or flagged by Instagram’s team but were not found to have violated guidelines.
  • On Wednesday afternoon, the APAG tweeted out that “collective bargaining has won,” the union will have “an ongoing relationship with the Instagram/Facebook team,” and “They said they would go through and reactivate!”
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Adult performers, sex workers, and porn stars protested outside of Instagram’s Menlo Park, Calif. on Wednesday, with planned picketing outside its New York office as well.

The #instaSTRIKE bi-coastal protest was organised by the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG), a labour union for the adult film industry. The group says the protest was in opposition to the company’s wrongful termination of sex workers’ accounts, closely related to the platform’s rules against nudity, deletions that some protesters told The Guardian oftentimes appeared to be random, inconsistently enforced, and next to impossible to get specific answers and additional clarity from the company as to the reason why.

While some adult entertainers were successfully able to regain control of their account after repeated reachouts to the company, they told The Guardian the time their account spent in limbo affected their earnings and business opportunities.

APAG called this a “blatant discrimination of legal workers across the world” in a post. In the same post, APAG say it has “a team of lawyers looking to create a class-action lawsuit” against Instagram.

Representatives from APAG arrived at Instagram’s Menlo Park headquarters on Wednesday. APAG tweeted that guild board members and models would be meeting with Instagram’s policy team there during the protest.

Later on Wednesday afternoon, APAG tweeted out an update, calling the protest a success and saying they had met with Instagram and had agreed to keep an ongoing relationship, with the company agreeing to “go through and reactivate” deleted account from a list provided by the union. Business Insider has reached out to APAG for additional comment about the protests.

Accusations of inconsistent policy enforcement

In April, APAG published a post about alleged Instagram discrimination, calling out the platform for censoring adult performers and sex workers for posting what they view as content just as racy as verified celebrities like Kim Kardashian. The group also said that Instagram would target these individuals’ accounts even as they posted tamer photos, in the vein of workout videos and bathing suit shots.

“When people ask why performers care, it is because they too have monetized their following, legally. Many performers, with their massive followings on Instagram that they have worked incredibly hard for, use their social media platforms for promotion, sponsorship, and more,” the statement reads. “They have legitimate, legal businesses, and are losing income due to this blatant discrimination.”

The guild’s post followed Instagram’s March announcement that it would be putting a blurred screen over sensitive content – posts that were reported by the community or flagged by Instagram’s team, but not found to have violated guidelines.

Vice reported in April that the APAG’s legal counsel, James Felton, wrote a letter to Facebook stating that 200 adult performers’ Instagram accounts were deleted, without any explanation from the platform. He wrote a follow-up letter later that month indicating that without response, “we will go the legal route,” meaning arbitration.

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