Facebook amends code after deletion of black users’ photos sparks outrage
As campaigning victories go, forcing Mark Zuckerberg’s social media empire to admit a discriminatory flaw in its policy is no small feat.
But following a campaign launched in this paper, the Observer can exclusively reveal that Instagram and its parent company Facebook will be updating its policy on nudity in order to help end discrimination of plus-size black women on its platforms and ensure all body types are treated fairly.
In August, Instagram was accused of censoring and silencing the plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams. A wave of content creators then confirmed the platform was repeatedly discriminating against black people, plus-size users and other marginalised communities, by deleting their photos or failing to promote them in the same way it did for its white users.
Speaking to the Observer over the summer, Nicholas-Williams and photographer Alexandra Cameron told of how photos from their “confidence shoot” were repeatedly deleted and taken down, with warnings that their accounts – which have more than 115,000 followers between them – could be closed down. The controversy caused fans to protest and post pictures of the model en masse under the hashtag #IWantToSeeNyome.
The photo-sharing app owned by Facebook was accused of hypocrisy and racism in allowing an abundance of photos of semi-naked skinny white women on its feeds but deleting those posted by black women in similar poses.
Nicholas-Williams said she was shocked that “a fat black woman celebrating her body is banned … I want to promote self-love and inclusivity because that’s how I feel and how I want other women like me to feel”.
The photos in question showed Nicholas-Williams with her eyes closed and wrapping an arm around her breasts. While the pose is a common trope across social media, in this instance it was deemed to violate Instagram’s guidance on pornography.
Original publication 25 October, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 5th November 2020
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