NAME: Kes Inkersole
PLATFORM & USERNAME: Insta – @kesinkersole
CENSORSHIP: Shadow Ban
What reason was given for your ban?
Due to the platforms not admitting to shadowbanning, we were not given recognition or confirmation by Instagram that the posts were shadowbanned. We guessed that they were shadowbanned because of how (little) the posts were performing in contrast to our other posts and content.
Why do you think your post(s) was censored?
We launched a whole project surrounding the idea of creating safer and more protected digital spaces for marginalised people, and despite the project including people with large followings and being shared by these people, the project received hardly any ‘recognition’ or ‘performance’. We think this is because the project explicitly speaks about surveillance and the need to behave in anti-platform and activist ways to make these digital spaces safer for marginalised people. No big platform wants anyone else to read about the problems encountered in these platforms or how people can interfere/intervene with these platforms and their strategies to help the platform benefit the people who speak out against the platform. Also, the people featured in the project are women of POC and queer identities which we think contributed to the shadowban because marginalised people are silenced the most.
Were you able to appeal and what was the response?
No, we did not appeal, as we decided in the end that we are quite happy for the project to be seen only by certain people at the moment, kind of an ‘if you know you know’ vibe. We hope this could help keep the people involved in the project safe for the time being. Maybe it is harmful to us that our work is not getting as recognised as it should however maybe this keeps the project a safer space for those involved?
We also didn’t appeal because we thought it would be a huge waste of time with no response or not the response we wanted to hear, based on what other people we know have said when they’ve been through this process.
What effect has your experience of censorship had on you?
I created this project mentioned as part of my MA in Internet Equalities and I want to utilise this project to launch my career after I finish the degree. I was expecting the launch of the project to generate a lot of attention allowing me and everybody else involved in its creation to be recognised more to propel my career using the project. This has affected me by making me feel like my project is not ‘good’ enough, or the voices involved do not ‘deserve’ to be seen or heard. It’s made me think that the world doesn’t want to see my work and has made me feel that I wouldn’t be able to survive on this work financially if nobody is interested.
However, I do know now that this is not the case and that I can’t let Instagram tell me if my work is good or not.
What’s one thing you want people to know about this topic?
We need to raise awareness of how shadow banning is happening. We need to speak about the algorithmic bias involved but also the damaging nature of the universality of the community guidelines of these platforms. As well as how content moderators cannot be expected to make decisions rooted in cultural context when they are scattered all over the globe trying to follow a universal one-size-fits-all decision-making metric.
We need to look at things contextually.
One person’s offence is another person’s liberation. People don’t feel safe speaking about shadow banning online and we need to create safer spaces to discuss, share these experiences and support each other with knowledge on what to do when these things happen. We also need to encourage collaboration and creativity to think of ways to protect ourselves from this censorship.