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Last week adult performers, pornstars, and models made the news in a somewhat uncharacteristic way. The Adult Performers Actors Guild set up a picket line outside Instagram’s headquarters in Silicon Valley in response to what many see as Instagram’s unfair policy of deleting accounts without informing users of the specific reasons why and not offering feedback on what users can do to restore them. In 2019 that more often than not translates as a career-ruining move.

Instagram currently has more than a billion users and its influencer market is estimated to reach $2.3 billion by 2020. It’s become de facto the platform to reach potential employers or clients for many in the entertainment industry and the best way to display their wares. But Facebook has been under intense scrutiny after the innumerable high profile scandals, stretching from election-swaying fake news to violent images, terrorist content, and child pornography getting past its moderators. In consequence Facebook (which owns Instagram) has taken a tougher and tougher stance in terms of moderating content, including content that might be deemed ‘adult’.

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According to the Guild in 2019 alone Instagram suspended the accounts of 1,000 performers (in the US). Many argue that the platform’s confusing and unclear guidelines as well as their next-to-no customer service meant that users have been left the source of their livelihoods stripped from them without any explanation when their Instagram is suspended or deleted.

Speaking to the Guardian one adult performer, Amber Lynn, described her experience when her 100,000 follower-strong account was deleted.  “I sent [Instagram] multiple emails through my lawyer and they will still not tell me why they did it,” she said. “They do not answer you, do not give you an opportunity to correct any problems or even tell you what problems they had to begin with so you can avoid it in the future.”

Last week’s protests ended with a spokesperson from Instagram meeting with the Guild and reinstating many of the deleted accounts. But whilst many of the accounts were supposedly taken down because they were repeat offenders in terms of posting nude content (which falls outside Instagram’s guidelines) the Adult Performers Actors Guild maintains that they were discriminated against because of their profession. In fact, according to the lawyers for the guild, there are grounds for a class action lawsuit against Instagram on behalf of adult performers and entertainers.

Whilst the issue has been around for a while, it seems that the love-loss between Facebook, Instagram, and the adult community has come to a head over the past two months. The problem arguably can be traced to Instagram’s slowness to acknowledge the important role it plays within people’s careers and professional lives, and how the removal of one of its  accounts can be devastating.

For this reason too adult performers have begun to increasingly move away from Instagram (or at least to use it differently) and to the likes of platforms such as Only Fans that allow for adult content as well as for performers to set up subscription packages that allow them to operate with confidence in the knowledge that their content will reach fans whilst not reaching minors given it’s age verified as well as allowing any type of content they like.

However, the ubiquity of Instagram means that performers still need it, and if the last two months are anything to go by, Instagram has a problem on its hands as pornstars and models join together in calling out the platform’s treatment of them as a group.