Instagram accidentally reinstated the banned Pornhub account

Instagram accidentally reinstated the banned Pornhub account

Instagram accidentally reinstated the banned Pornhub account

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After years of intermittent temporary suspensions, Instagram permanently banned the account from Pornhub in September. Then, for a short time over the weekend, the account was reinstated. On Tuesday, it was permanently banned again.


“This was done in error,” an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch. “As we previously said, we have permanently disabled this Instagram account for repeated violations of our policies.”

Instagram’s content guidelines prohibit nudity and sexual solicitation. A Pornhub spokesperson told TechCrunch, however, that they believe the adult streaming platform’s account does not violate any guidelines. Instagram has not commented on the exact reason for the ban, nor which policies the account violated.

It is disturbing from a moderation perspective if a permanently banned Instagram account can be accidentally reactivated. Pornhub told TechCrunch that her account even received a notice from Instagram that her ban was in error (that message itself was apparently sent in error).

The dispute over Pornhub’s Instagram account illustrates a larger issue that affects creators like sex educators, pole dancers and sex workers. Even if their posts don’t violate the content guidelines, many have found that their accounts are susceptible to deactivation or suspension. Adult stars may not be able to share their NSFW content on Instagram, but their large following helps them connect with their audience.

Due to US legislation like SESTA/FOSTA, which was passed in 2018, it has become more difficult for online sex workers to earn a living safely and legally. The law is positioned as a means to combat sex trafficking, but in practice the policy has been shown to make sex work less safe. Since the legislation provides an exception to Section 230 which holds online platforms responsible for facilitating prostitution and trafficking, social networks and credit card processors have become very reluctant to break the law. Yet, as of 2021, federal prosecutors have only used the legislation once, according to a government report.

When Pornhub’s account received a permanent suspension in September, the platform shared an open letter to Meta executives on Twitter.

“Pornhub’s safe-for-work account has been disabled for three weeks,” the letter reads. “In the meantime, Kim Kardashian has posted her fully exposed ass to her 330 million followers without any restrictive action from Instagram. We’re glad to see that Kim and the art team behind the image are free to share their work on the platform, but wonder why we’re being denied the same treatment.

Today, a Pornhub spokesperson continues to denounce what he called Instagram’s ‘arbitrary and selectively enforced’ standards.

“Within hours of reinstating our Instagram account, Meta demonstrated that their policies had no rhyme or reason when they deactivated our account again, despite not violating any guidelines,” said the spokesperson told TechCrunch. “…the haphazard and irrational application of their policies by Meta and Instagram imposes undue hardship on the livelihoods of those working in the adult industry, an already marginalized group. We call on Meta to reconsider its decision once again.

Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek, is currently the subject of several lawsuits alleging that it knowingly profited from child sexual exploitation material (CSAM). As of December 2020, the platform removed all unverified content and now requires those who upload videos to verify their identity.

Online platforms are legally required to report CSAM-related incidents to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline, although this does not necessarily require companies to proactively seek out CSAM to report and remove. According to a 2021 report, Meta reported 22 million instances of CSAM on Facebook and over 3 million on Instagram. MindGeek made 13,229 reports.


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