Instagram’s mistakes when it comes to censoring content




In social networks, not everything is allowed; however, when it comes to removing content, there are many cases where mistakes are made. The last seems to be the one that has affected the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who has seen how an image in which he appears in the Las Ventas bullring with a journalist -without being able to see the ring or any image of an injured bull- has been deleted by Instagram.

The social network, whose parent company is Facebook, has rules that limit the content that a user can upload in order to offer an experience suitable for as many Internet users as possible. To that end, the platform prohibits sharing images or videos in which the content shows graphic violence, which is what the president of the Community of Madrid has been accused of.

The rule covers violence against people and against animals; in the latter case, as long as the photograph is not taken in “an explicit context of hunting or of food consumption, preparation, processing or manufacture”. In the case of the image censored in Madrid politics, nothing appears that apparently breaks with the norm; only his face, that of his companion and part of the mockery.

ABC has contacted Facebook to inquire about the reasons for the removal of Ayuso’s image. From the social network it is pointed out that, for the moment, they cannot offer information about it. It is also not clear whether the withdrawal could be due to a bug in their moderation tool. Although it is most likely. This is what Samuel Parra, a lawyer specialized in digital issues and social networks, points out in conversation with this newspaper.

“Neither Facebook nor Instagram are constantly reviewing each photo to see if it meets their criteria, there are stadiums. When we publish something, the rest of the users have the possibility to report it if they consider that it goes against the rules of the social network. When many complaints are received about the same content, the algorithm – and here it depends on how they have it configured – can determine that the complaint is well founded because there are many different people who have complained. There is no human who presses a button to remove the photograph, it is a machine that does it “, explains the expert.

This possibility, the fact that many users have denounced the photograph of the president and this has caused that, finally, it was eliminated, gains weight if we take into account that the person with whom it appears in the image, the journalist David Casas Ramos, shared the same content and is still present in his account.

No nudes

Be that as it may, this is not the first time that content withdrawals have put Instagram at the center of controversy. Last August the social network deleted the image in which the production company El Deseo shared the promotional poster of ‘Parallel mothers‘, the last film by the Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar, in which a female nipple appears. In this regard, it should be remembered that the platform has little tolerance for nude images. Even for cultural purposes.

“We are aware that some people may want to share artistic or creative nude images; However, for various reasons, we do not allow nudity to be published on Instagram.
stands out in the rules of use
of the social network. The excuse? That the content is suitable for “a diverse audience.” In addition, Instagram details that the ban affects “digital content that shows sexual acts, genitals and close-ups of fully exposed buttocks.”

In addition, regarding the poster for Almodóvar’s film, Instagram recalls that the policy “affects some photos of exposed female nipples, although these photos are allowed in the context of breastfeeding, childbirth or the moments after, health-related situations (for example, after a mastectomy, to raise awareness about breast cancer or in relation to gender confirmation surgeries) or as an act of protest ”.

In the case of Almodóvar’s film, however, the company ended up backing down with a statement in which it stated that “we make exceptions to allow nudity under certain circumstances, including when it is a clear artistic context. Therefore, we have restored the posts that share Almodóvar’s movie poster on Instagram, and we truly regret any confusion caused. Something that has been fulfilled in the case of this film, but that has not always been the case. It depends on the noise that the affected person makes and the people willing to listen to it, or, at least, that’s what it sounds like.

The platform artists’Don’t delete art‘, for example, they have not been as lucky as Almodóvar. The association shares in its
a good handful of works of all kinds, from paintings to photographs, that have not managed to pass the filter of Facebook, Instagram or other social networks.

“The digital gatekeepers who control the world’s largest social media platforms have enormous power to determine what content can circulate freely and what should be banned or placed on the digital margins. And they’re wielding that power in an often chaotic and overly broad way: not only is content removed due to overly restrictive and sometimes unclear community guidelines, but, unbeknownst to users, defined material vaguely as ‘objectionable’ it disappears from the search or explore functions and hashtags », they point from the platform.

Information yes, but not all

Social networks have also made mistakes when it comes to allowing users to inform and express themselves. One of the most recent examples was found last May, when the NGO Acces Now
to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to “systematically silence users who protest and document the evictions of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem” within the upsurge of hostilities between Israel and Palestine last spring.

“Content removed and accounts suspended both on Instagram and Twitter are involved in documenting and reporting what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah,” they continued from the organization. Instagram, for its part, said in a statement that the removal of related content, in addition to the closure of some accounts, was due to “a widespread global technical problem that is not related to any particular issue.”

Shana Chappell, the mother of one of the US servicemen who died in the attack on the Kabul airport in Afghanistan at the end of August, was also recently censured by Instagram. In this case, the platform temporarily deleted his account after he published a message in which he wrote, referring to the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, “my son’s blood is on your hands!” He also accused the leader of having cheated in the elections that confronted him last November with Donald Trump, whom he described as “my president.”

From Facebook it was rectified expressing its “condolences to Mrs. Chappell and her family.” It was also noted that “the tribute to your son’s hero does not violate any of our policies. That message has not been deleted and your account was deleted by mistake and has already been recovered.

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