NAME: Ozziline Mercedes
PLATFORM & USERNAME: Insta – @mercedes666_2
CENSORSHIP: Account Removal
What reason was given for your ban?
Sexual solicitation, nudity, bullying and harassment.
Why do you think your post(s) was censored?
Instagram bots read certain posts as sexual solicitations when they contain certain words or phrases. Other users may have reported some of my posts because my opinions and images made them feel uncomfortable. I also believe that Instagram changes its T&Cs frequently without informing its users. For example, I have had posts removed that were posted at least six months prior to the removal with no explanation. This means that my account is continuously shadowbanned and at risk of deletion even when I intend on adhering to the platform’s rules.
Were you able to appeal and what was the response?
Yes. My previous account was shadowbanned, seriously limiting how many of my followers got to see my posts. This account was eventually deleted permanently; I appealed to have the case reviewed but Instagram refused to look into it any further. I had to start a new account with many lost followers. My new account is also now shadowbanned despite my efforts to stick to the T&Cs.
What effect has your experience of censorship had on you?
As an artist and sex worker, I use Instagram to promote my work and make new connections. When I am shadowbanned many of my followers are unable to see my posts, which by proxy eliminates any potential new followers as my posts are not being shared. This massively inhibits my professional growth and ability to network. Having my account deleted almost eliminated all the hard work I’d put into creating a community and also meant that I’d lost all my images, messages and connections that were linked to that profile.
What’s one thing you want people to know about this topic?
Instagram was innovative and exciting when it first launched because it made image sharing democratic, whilst allowing people to network and exchange ideas on a global scale. It seems that they are now aiming to ‘cleanse’ the platform of any creator whose opinions and images do not fit a mainstream ideal, thus removing the democratic aspect and, in a wider context, the freedom of thought that made the internet so great in the first place.