Well, it’s now been about 6 weeks since I lost my Instagram account (for the second time in 2021). It has taken me a while to write this blog as I have so many thoughts and emotions in my head that I wanted to get out onto paper, and this whole situation has been very upsetting, and triggering to my depression and anxiety, so I had to write it in chunks, as to not get overwhelmed or depressed.
My Instagram account is very important to me…probably more so than just the average, casual user. I use my Instagram profile as a portfolio for my work, a means of creating income, and fostering a global community. I also use my platform to share my voice and ideas, and a message of self love, body and sex positivity, and mental health awareness, all things that are very important to me. My account had FINALLY just been verified earlier this year (my Facebook page has been verified for over 6 years now), and I worked so hard on all my content, and building up my following. This account is my community and online family. Half a million followers, over 10 thousand posts, 5 million impressions a month, and 10 years of hard work, content, art, life, memories, contacts, and community, is now gone. 75% of the work that I get as a freelance model comes through my Instagram account. I've already noticed a significant drop in income and opportunities since losing my account, and this also effects my ability to work as a content creator and influencer. This is especially rough during a pandemic that has already seriously affected my ability to travel, work, and bring income in through in person workshops, coaching, appearances,and photoshoots. I rely on my Instagram not only for my livelihood and career, but also as a connection to family, friends, and support systems.
On December 12th, I checked my Instagram and was hit with the message below, that my account had been disabled. My heart sank into my stomach, and my stomach jumped into my throat. This is a huge issue for my industry, (and Instagram), and this same thing has happened to so many of my friends and colleagues over the past year. I had long said that losing my account would be one of my worst, professional nightmares, and would likely mean the beginning of the end of “Ruby Roxx” as a career, which is why I am SO careful about what I post, and make sure to always post within instagram’s guidelines. This sort of account disabling had already happened once in 2021, in April, so I tried not to panic, and tried to think positively, that I would be able to get it back. The last time this happened, I was able to get it reinstated successfully in less than 24 hours, by sending reports and asking my followers to do the same. I thought to myself, “it must just be a mistake or glitch, and i’ll get it back”, but unfortunately, over a month has passed, and I still haven’t been successful in getting it back, or, getting in touch with Instagram.
Over the years, I’ve had posts taken down on more than one occasion, but once I appealed the decision, 95% of those posts were put back up, and deemed as “not violating guidelines”. The other 5%, also didn't violate guidelines, but, was I not successful in my appeal report, and they weren't reposted. One of the big issues with Instagram, is that “violations” still shows up on my account, even if the decision to delete the post has been overturned. However, Instagarms punishment of my content and account didn't stop there. When my posts started getting taken down, my account would also be shadow banned (meaning only a fraction of my followers would even see my posts, for weeks, months or years at a time, and my profile and username wasn't searchable by many users), and features of the app would be disabled or unusable. For example, I wasn't allowed to go live for over a year on Instagram, and my app wouldn't update with new features. Every time a post was deleted, a message would pop up saying I was at risk of having my account disabled, but then again, nearly every time, my appeal would prove that my posts were well within guidelines, and they were reposted. Now, I’m not sure if a troll is reporting my posts, or if Instagram’s robotic AI system is targeting me, and accounts like mine. It’s probably a bit of both, but either way, having my account deleted, an account that was WELL within guidelines, is beyond unfair and honestly, devastating to anyone who relies on social media to promote their work, and sustain their businesses and income.
I am all for rules and guidelines. I am a rule follower, and understand why fair guidelines and TOS (Terms of Service) need to be in place and enforced online…however, my issue is the misogynistic double standard that some of these guidelines hold, and the blatant hypocrisy and inequitable application of these rules between accounts on Instagram. In other words, when accounts that are following guidelines are punished, yet other accounts, which blatantly break the rules, are allowed to continue to post without repercussion this is a clear demonstration of the way in which certain accounts and creators are being unfairly targeted. I am a curvy woman, and a body and sex positive model who has an a passion for lingerie, and boudoir imagery, so of course, my content is on the sexier side, but, it is also professional, and artistic, and creative, and personal, and well within guidelines. I post nothing racier than what you would see at a beach, or at the mall in a lingerie store. I see misinformation, bullying, hate, violence, racism, and straight up pornography on Instagram EVERY day (which by the way, are all against IG’s terms of service) yet those accounts and users are allowed to continue to post without any actions being taken against them.
So let’s talk about what I could have possibly posted that might have warranted my account being deleted. I honestly wouldn’t have much to post that would ACTUALLY go against guidelines anyways! The guidelines state no female nipples, but I mostly model lingerie, so my nipples are generally, always covered. On the off chance that a nip slip happens, I make sure to blur/censor it, if I even decide to post it on Instagram in the first place. Here are a few examples of some of my posts that have been taken down, and also, some posts from other larger pages and celebrities. I guarantee you, if you were to report any of the images from these accounts, it would come back saying they don’t violate community guidelines…because they don't. But neither do mine. So why do my posts get taken down, and why do my posts violate guidelines? Why do I even have to go through the appeal process? And even if my posts are put back up, why does the violation still show up on my account? Celebrities and huge brands accounts, like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, and Playboy Magazine, are allowed to post whatever they like, (nudity, nipples, and even pubic hair) and do so often, without any issue. There are accounts dedicated to nude photography and modelling, with millions of followers that are allowed to post, yet I am not allowed to. What is the difference? Make it make sense, Instagram!
Now, I want to make it very clear, I’m not saying that these examples and photos are wrong in any way, or shouldn't be on Instagram. I am huge fans of Playboy, Britney, Miley, and any and all other accounts and humans that choose to share their art, bodies, and creativity with the world. These are, beautiful photos, and works of art and self expression. But why are they allowed to post these, yet, my posts, showing far less, are being taken down?
Let's not forget the misogynistic double standard that men can post shirtless photos and ‘men’s nipples’ are even written into the TOS as fine, but ‘womens nipples’ are not allowed. Everytime I see a shirtless man on social media or daytime tv, I am filled with rage! Rage because of the misogynistic double standard, that it is perfectly socially acceptable for men to parade around shirtless on TV, all over social media, and even in public; however, female nipples are shrouded in shame and judgement, and hidden away, banished from public view. Newsflash…everyone has nipples. They are not blasphemous, or evil, or inherently sexual, and neither is the human body, or my Instagram account. If you saw a close up photo of a female nipple and a male nipple next to each other you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two...because there is no difference. This is 2022, not 1952.
On many of my “guideline violations” the reason given is either, “spam” (I assume this shows up when a troll has reported me) or, “sexual activity and solicitation”. I have fan pages, OnlyFans and Patreon, where I share full photo sets of my modelling work and photographs, plus behind the scenes content from shoots, videos, selfies and that sort of thing, for my mega fans and supporters. For example, normally when I do a photoshoot, I see anywhere from 10-50 photos per set, but only a few of my personal favorites get shared on social media…so the remaining photos and full sets are available on my fan pages. No one is selling or soliciting sex. I am simply sharing my work, art, and passion with those who want to see it, and doing so on a completely different platform and website from Instagram.
For YEARS I have had trolls set up fake accounts, steal my name and photos, then try to message and scam my followers out of money or to try to gain personal information and credit card numbers. When I report those accounts, it normally takes DOZENS of reports from multiple accounts, to get them taken down, if they do at all. In fact, most of the time, I am told those accounts do not violate guidelines, and they are left active. Instagram is RAMPANT with fake accounts trying to scam their users…so why aren’t they focusing on shutting THOSE accounts down. Same with the men who send me unsolicited dick picks, or disgusting sexually explicit, or violent messages. Whenever I get those, (which is unfortunately, quite often), and report them, I am told they aren’t breaking guidelines, and their accounts are left up, unpunished. Why is Instagram censoring what I share, but when I am subject to online bullying and intellectual property theft, I'm left with zero support or help. Literal online sexual harassment and assaults are left unpunished, yet artistic, creative and professional photos and posts are constantly being taken down, and have now resulted in my account and therefor my livelihood, being stripped away.
As much as this post is about MY account being deleted, this issue is not just effecting me. This is happening to SO many other users, particularly, female, and LGBTQA+, plus size, curvy bodied, BIPOC, disabled and marginalised users, models, and content creators, as well as, photographers, dancers, activists, small businesses, and those that post anything even remotely sexy or “taboo”. Sexuality isn’t wrong or shameful, nor should it be hidden. Infact, censoring it is only hurting and hindering users. Sure, it’s not for everyone, but why is it we are being hidden and punished instead of those people just not following an account they don’t like? Same with our bodies. All bodies should be represented and celebrated and no one body type is better than the other. I WISH when I was growing up, I was able to see women of multiple body types in their underwear, and swimsuits, living their best lives and being praised and honoured in society and in the media. It would have saved me (and I can guarantee, countless others) years of hating and trying to change my body, engaging in disordered eating habits, and constantly feeling like I wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough. Representation matters, and it is so unfair that so many accounts are being unreasonably censored and deleted. Our sexualty and bodies should be celebrated and expressed however it makes us, as individuals, comfortable. For some people, modesty is sexy, and for others, being free of clothing is sexy, and they are both right and so is everything in between. As long as you are safe, and comfortable, and all parties involved are consenting adults, then there is nothing shameful about sex, your body, or how you choose to live your life, share your story, or earn money for that matter, and we should allow everyone to express themselves, and live their lives, however they see fit. Just as no one should be pressured into doing or posting anything that makes them uncomfortable, we should also not be judging and censoring those whose comfort levels don’t match our own. Society, and social media, need to be more open minded, and less judgemental. It takes all different types of people, all comfort levels, modesty levels, life experiences, passions, lives, and loves to make up this world. If everyone felt the same way, and acted and posted and dressed all the same…what a boring world that would be. I certainly don’t expect you to like everything you see on line, but next time you see something you don't like on social media (unless of course someone is being hurt, or abused, or lives are being endangered) just scroll past. Don't report the post, or leave a nasty comment…just live and let live. Because a post that you might see as lewd or showing too much skin, another person might see and gain comfort and confidence in themselves and the fact that they see a body like theirs online. For every post you might think is oversharing, TMI, or “attention seeking” someone else might relate to, or find comfort in it, and it might help them get through the day. If you don't like something someone has posted, then don't follow that account.
Losing my account isn’t just about my career, portfolio and income…that’s a big chunk of it, but really, my career and all the hard work I did, doesn’t just cease to exist or count because I lost my Instagram. At one point, I thought losing my account would mean the end of my career, but I have had a huge wave of love and support come my way since I’ve lost it, and I am lucky to have solid connections within my community and will be able to continue to work with businesses, clients, sponsors, and photographers who know they can count on the quality of work I produce. Even if I never get my original account back, I know I am strong and successful enough to carry on, and I will continue to build and grow my career, and new account. I may need to work extra hard now to rebuild my following, but my hustle and drive has never, and will never be “disabled”.
The amount of followers I had, then or now, does not define my success, and deleting my account, doesn’t delete all of the amazing accomplishments and opportunities I’ve had; however, the part I will never get back is all the lost community, and connections, as well as the years of hard work I put into thought out, meaningful captions, and posts. Along with losing my account, I’ve also lost memories of past trips and experiences, unforgettable events, and special moments in my life. I’ve lost photos of loved ones and friends who I haven’t seen in years, and some of those who aren’t here anymore. Ive lost communications and beautiful messages sent between so many people I love. I've lost connections with THOUSANDS of people and contacts I’ve made throughout my 15 year career and 10 years with that account, and I can only hope they will find my new account again. That is why this really hurts, why it’s so personal, and why I really want my account back.
So, what can I do? Instagram must have a “help” line right? Customer service? Nope! The only way for me to get ahold of Instagram is to “report an error” via the app’s help section, but who knows where those reports go or if anyone ever sees them, or even cares? When I try to log into my old account, it tells me my account has been disabled for “violating terms of service”, and gives me a chance to dispute it, and send in an appeal. So of course, I try multiple times a day to log into my account, and each time, I send a report in, and I will continue to do so daily…but again, who knows if anyone is even seeing those reports. Unfortunately, It seems that Instagram only cares about you, or gives you any real help, if you are a multi billion dollar company spending sizable amounts of money on advertising, or an A list celebrity with millions of followers and global influence…otherwise…you’re left in the dust. And for an app with billions of users, that is just completely unacceptable, and absolutely needs to change.
If you would like to help, you can follow my new backup account @rubyroxxbackup, as well as my other social media pages. You can send in reports to IG by going to Settings > Help > Report a Problem and tell them @rubyroxxmodel account has been unfairly disabled. You can help spread the word by sharing a post from my new account to your story or with any friends or followers of yours who you think would want to follow me. Or, you could share this blog post if any of it resonated with you.
There is a petition created by @bloggeronpole (who is an incredible artist, doctor, pole dance instructor, and activist for this topic, whose account has also been deleted multiple times) that you can sign. It already has 120K+ signatures, and it’s goal is to stop Instagram from unfairly censoring nudity and sexuality. The link to sign is below.
Thank you so much for all your love and support in this unfortunate and unfair situation. And, thank you for following and sharing my new account, and doing whatever you can to support me and other users whose accounts have been unfairly censored and disabled by Instagram. I don't know if this blog post will change anything, or if it will help me get my account back, but, I had to share my story, truth, and concerns, if for no other reason, than because writing is therapeutic to me, and I needed to feel like I was doing something to take control of the situation, and not just giving up and letting Instagram win. They need to be held accountable and hear how their unfair censorship, and wrongful deletion of accounts is effecting their users. No matter what, I will not change who I am or what I do. I will continue to do the work I love and use my voice to spread a message of love and acceptance, and to stand up to oppression and discrimination in any form. I have always stood up to online bullies, and they will NOT win...no matter if in the form of trolls, haters, guidelines, or Instagram itself. They can try to delete my account and my posts, but they will never delete my passion and drive.