#Uncensoredme, Shadowban and Censorship

We are working to build a social media community for those curious about sexual stimulation and education. Unfortunately, we keep confronting hurdles in the forms of censorship, bans and shadowbans. Learn about the implications of each below.


Freedom of expression is one of the most important rights, especially for marginalized groups seeking equality and social media movements, such as #metoo and #blacklivesmatter. Yet, in recent months, social media algorithms— “designed to maintain a safe place for inspiration and expression”—often censor the platforms’ most vulnerable users. Women’s bodies, nudity, sex and sexuality suffer on account of social media’s algorithmic censorship, all of which replicate the male gaze online. The additional harassment, violence and hate speech is just extra.Unsurprisingly, men’s photos are censored less than women’s; platforms censored 3 out of 12 images for the male category while censoring 13 out of 18 images for the female category. This power imbalance has become even more apparent following the approval of FOSTA/SESTA, a regulation that claims to target sex traffickers which, in truth, has devastating impacts on sex workers.

What is Shadowbanning?

At CHEEX, we are dedicated to building a community for those curious about sexual stimulation and education, all the way striving to present sexuality with fun, diversity and consent. Instagram is one of our most important channels for us to foster this community and to offer our featured artists an appropriate platform that appeals to a broad audience.

Unfortunately, we face repeated limitations. Instagram rigorously deletes depictions of sexual interactions, female nipples and nudity, independent of their artistic or educational purpose. The heightened censorship of content perceived as related to sex work has also led to an increase in shadowbanning.

Shadowbanning is the act of blocking a user’s content on social media sites without their awareness, only revealing its impact over time via their account metrics. Being shadowbanned means your posts won’t show up for hashtags or your followers’ feeds. This practice disproportionately affects pages run by sex workers as well as queer users and accounts posting content deemed deviant from established norms.

Once shadowbanned, the only way for people to see your posts is to visit your profile. At its best, shadowbanning would theoretically cut out bot accounts or those violating the terms of service. At its worst, the practice serves as an almost invisible form of censorship, silencing certain viewpoints and making space for companies to insert more sponsored content posts. Facebook (owner of Instagram) attributes all perceived injustices to glitches in the hashtag function. Artists affected by shadowbands have described this phenomenon as a “secret denouncing” by Instagram.

Censorship and Discrimination

To identify images violating its community guidelines, Instagram relies on a mix of manual reporting and AI tech, involving a global team of over 15,000 employees dedicated to reviewing posts and moderating content. Somehow biases persist in the algorithm. As The Guardian noted,
“With all of this technology and so many employees, it is hard to understand how prejudices still haunt the algorithm – and yet here we are.”
In June of this year, an artistic topless photo featuring plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams was removed by Instagram, despite not violating any of Instagram’s community guidelines. The incident sparked an outcry from Nicholas-Williams’s 60,000 followers. Nyome Nicholas-Williams, a black, plus-size woman, represents demographics that face Instagram’s restrictions more than others, notably skinny, cis, and white people. The incident prompted a change.org petition aiming to “showcase all people of all sizes and ethnicities”, which collected more than 20,000 signatures. In a recent interview, Nicholas-Williams stated:
“censorship happens everywhere, but on social media it happens more, especially to black fat women like myself”.
Despite the public acknowledgement of the need to review policies, little has changed on Instagram. As such, a global network of plus-size influencers from diverse racial backgrounds—boasting millions of followers, collectively—posted an image to their grid, containing a search bar with the words:
"Why does IG sensor [sic] my body but not thin bodies?”

The issue gained further attention in mid-October this year when a photo by Australian comedian Celeste Barber—which mimicked another post by Candice Swanepoel—got taken down by Instagram. Swanepoel’s photo stayed on the platform. Celeste Barber immediately reacted to her post being deleted; now Nyome Nicholas-Williams as well as Celeste Barber are collaborating with the platform to update their guidelines.

Adult performers can sometimes face even more challenges due to Instagram’s censorship. Despite adhering to community guidelines, their accounts get attacked more than any other celebrities or artists. Most adult performers use Instagram to showcase themselves and promote their brands. When their accounts are deleted, performers lose access to their fans and business connections, potentially impacting their income and livelihood.

While we at Cheex express support for the majority of Instagram’s community guidelines—such as those preventing sexual content involving minors, hate speech and the glorification of violence—we also call for more nuanced censorship regulations. We advocate for a framework which allows users the freedom to publish all content which contributes to body positivity, education about sexual health, portrayal of the female body’s many parts and presentation of aesthetic perspectives on sensuality.

While Instagram’s intention to combat hate speech, violence, sex trafficking and abuse is laudable, the vagueness of their community guidelines can inadvertently harm already vulnerable groups. The arbitrary enforcement of these rules often forces content into less safe spaces. For that reason, we invite members of our community to share their stories of biased & unfair censorship on social media.

By participating in this campaign, you become part of a movement towards a destigmatized way of dealing with nudity and sexuality.

About #uncensoredme

We invite our community to share cases of biased and unfair censorship on social media. The current guidelines lack transparency and often discriminate against certain groups. The ambiguous and arbitrary enforcement of these rules pushes content into spaces that are anything but safe.

By participating in this campaign, you become part of a movement towards a destigmatized approach to nudity and sexuality.

Use #uncensoredme to participate or to learn more about the campaign.


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