UPDATE: Instagram has reinstated Jurisic's account this evening (14 May), so that it is publicly on view, and apologised for the inconvenience. However, Jurisic says that more than 3000 of her older posts are missing and she still does not have access to the account.
The Dublin-based photographer Dragana Jurisic has had her Instagram account shut down and her images removed from Facebook after she posted one of her works on the social media platforms. The photograph shows a naked model whose breasts have been “self-censored with a leaf” for the purpose of going online, Jurisic says.
When the photographer posted the same image on Facebook, which owns Instagram, she was “blocked from posting and commenting”. Furthermore, “posts my friends shared on Facebook have been taken down en masse without explanation”, she says.
This is the latest in a number of instances of social media platforms censoring works of art, with even a 30,000 year-old Stone Age statue coming under scrutiny for being “pornographic” and was removed from Facebook.
Jurisic says she used Instagram as “a sort of a digital archive of my work” and although she has back-ups of the images she has lost “dates, times, notes, comments and discussions that developed around many of my posts”. When she contacted Teru Kuwayama, a photo community manager at Instagram and Facebook—who Jurisic says was “helpful”—he told her that the “account was removed for repeated nudity” and that when he had asked for the return of the “seven years of data”, the company refused. Instagram did not immediately respond to a comment request at the time of publication.
Instagram’s terms say: “You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service.”
A number of Jurisic's peers have pointed out on social media that the work in questions is no more contentious than a nude image shared by the celebrity Kim Kardashian West, who has one of the largest followings on the platform.
“Interestingly a friend of mine tried reporting a soft porn Instagram account by a male photographer for violation of terms—these images show much more than any of my posts did—and she got a response that they do not violate any terms,” Jurisic says. “This is mind-boggling to me. It boils down to female nipples and hair.”
Jurisic says she has no objections to women, such as Kardashian, posting their “highly sexualised images on line”. She adds: “I don't want to shame any woman's body or harm sex workers, even inadvertently, but there is something very broken with Instagram’s double standards.”
The Guardian photography critic, Sean O’Hagan, was one of the many across social media reposting the image and commented that the Jurisic’s account had been “permanently expunged by the Instagram Stalinists who think it is acceptable to censor artists”.
Clarification: Detail was added (15 May) about the subject of the photograph, Caoimhe Lavelle.