According to a recent report, Instagram has restricted user access to specific search queries on their image-based social media platform.
Of the hashtags listed in the report, several were seemingly harmless. The report includes the hashtags, “#AmericanGirl,” “#MexicanGirl”, “#KillingIt,” “#Brain,” “#CityCentre,” “#woman,” “#EverybodyIsBeautiful,” and “#eggplant.”
The report alleges that certain hashtags are blocked temporarily when specific problems arise. Searching for problematic hashtags will reveal 33 photos followed by a message claiming that the “community has reported some content” under that hashtag “may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”
Despite the implication that the ban on offending hashtags would be temporary, the report suggests that temporary bans have lasted several months and may never be lifted.
The list of partially censored Instagram hashtags was found via a Google search for Instagram’s community guidelines violations. In addition to the partially censored hashtags, Instagram’s API revealed a list of permanently censored hashtags. These hashtags primarily consist of explicitly sexual, pornographic and violent language. Searching for any of these phrases reveals a message claiming that “no photos or videos” have been posted under that hashtag.
According to the analysis, seemingly inconspicuous search topics such as #eggplant were censored due to users linking inappropriate content to those hashtags. A report from Gizmodo suggests that Instagram censored the eggplant emoji after it was reported that the emoji had become “the phallic image of the new millennium.”
An article in New York Magazine confirmed this in an article where they wrote that the eggplant emoji is “the correct emoji representation of male…genitalia.” Vocativ, meanwhile, claimed that the eggplant emoji is the “next frontier of online harassment.”