These Moms Are Mad That Instagram Keeps Deleting Topless Photos Of Their Long-Haired Sons
"Dear Instagram, I'm a boy. I just have long hair. Quit deleting my pictures!"
A group of moms on Instagram wants to know why the app keeps taking down topless photos of their sons, even though they don't break any rules.
The boys come from all over the world but share one key characteristic — long hair.
One of those boys is Parker, the 4-year-old son of Tori Spooner. They live in Florida near the beach, which Parker loves.
"We're at beach all the time. He, like, never wears a shirt," Spooner told BuzzFeed News.
Spooner first made an Instagram account for her son when he was born, but she started using it more in earnest as he grew older. She would document his beach cleanups, hoping to spread awareness about ocean pollution.
About a year and a half ago, a photo of Parker got flagged for the first time on Facebook, which owns Instagram. Like many of his other photos, Parker was shirtless in a bathing suit.
"They sent it and said it was sexual and we weren’t allowed to have it. It was pretty much just a warning," she said.
"Then the second time it happened on Facebook, it banned me for a couple of days."
Then it started happening on Instagram too. The bans started getting longer. Finally the account, @parkersavesthesea, was deleted by Instagram two weeks ago. It had more than 6,000 followers and several years' worth of photos.
"They said my account was taken down because too many of the photos were flagged on Instagram," she said.
Instagram and Facebook both use artificial intelligence and machine learning to flag and remove child nudity and images of exploitation. That means it could be that a robot, not a person, that decided Spooner's photos had to go.
The company's guidelines forbid photos of genitalia and unclothed children above toddler age. It also doesn't allow female nipples for anyone older than a toddler.
The pictures of Parker don't violate any of those rules; in a statement, the company told BuzzFeed News it had made a mistake.
“This post was taken down in error and we are sorry for the mistake. We err on the side of protecting children and for safety reasons we remove some images that show nude or partially-nude children," said a spokesperson.
"Even when this content is shared with good intentions, it could be used by others in unanticipated ways."
After her account was deleted, Spooner tried to appeal her case but said she had trouble actually getting a response from Instagram. So she made a new account with a photo of Parker holding a sign that said "Dear Instagram, I'm a boy. I just have long hair. Quit deleting my pictures!"
It turns out Spooner wasn't the only one having issues. Now other parents have posted similar photos of their own.
"I originally just started it kind of for us, but so many other people were commenting saying they’d make a sign too, and it started spreading," said Spooner.
Her original account was reinstated Tuesday after Instagram was contacted by the media, but Spooner still wants to see changes from the company.
"Find a solution so we’re allowed to post our boys with long hair," she said. "Have somebody manually view them if they get flagged."