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Instagram announces changes to nudity policy following censorship of plus-size and Black women

Instagram nudity policy

Social media platform Instagram has announced they will be making changes to their nudity policy on images of breasts, following a three-month campaign by British model Nyome Nicholas-Williams who called out the platform for censoring her images. The change will be rolled out globally this week, which will mean that images where people are hugging, cupping or holding their breasts will not be instantly removed by Instagram's algorithm.

Back in August, Nicholas-Williams shared a celebratory, half-nude picture to her feed, taken by photographer Alexandra Cameron as part of a 'confidence shoot,' where the model had her arms wrapped around her breasts. The photo was repeatedly deleted for breaking Instagram's nudity policy, with the platform also threatening to delete Cameron's account. It was from this experience that the campaign #IWantToSeeNyome was birthed, in response to Instagram's hypocritical double-standards that often lets nude images of thin, white women go unnoticed.

"Millions of pictures of very naked, skinny white women can be found on Instagram every day," Nicholas-Williams told The Observer.

"But a fat black woman celebrating her body is banned? It was shocking to me. I feel like I'm being silenced."



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A post shared by Alexandra Cameron (@alex_cameron) on


The campaign garnered enough traction that Instagram committed to reviewing their nudity policy, with the platform announcing at the beginning of this week that the investigation concluded that their policy on "breast squeezing" – which is associated with pornography on the platform – had been incorrectly applied to Nicholas-Williams' images. A spokesperson for Instagram told Business Insider that "hearing her [Nicholas-Williams] feedback helped us understand where this policy was falling short, and how we could refine it."

"With the new update, we'll allow content where someone is simply hugging, cupping or holding their breasts. And, if there's any doubt, we'll ask that reviewers allow the content to stay up."



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A post shared by Nyome Nicholas - Williams (@curvynyome) on


Closer to home, Australian comedian Celeste Barber also experienced a similar degree of censorship and discrimination with one of her recent posts. Fans of Barber, who parodies famous celebrities by recreating their images, were unable to share a post of the comedian posing side-by-side with model Candice Swanepoel. Both women were holding their breasts, but Barber's post breached community guidelines while Swanepoel's original post was still free to share and engage with on the platform.

Head of Instagram's public policy in Australia, Philip Chua, said the platform personally apologised to Barber, confirming that the changes to the policy would be implemented "very soon."

"We know people feel more empowered to express themselves and create communities of support — like the body positivity community — if they feel that their bodies and images are accepted," he said.

"We are grateful to our global community for speaking openly and honestly about their experiences and hope this policy change will help more people to confidently express themselves."

Image: Instagram

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