Instagram to alter censorship guidelines

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Instagram is approaching updated censorship guidelines for all accounts. The update will blur out content that could be considered objectionable, letting the user choose if they would like to view the content.

In the past, Instagram has been accused of deleting “sensitive” content, which many users deemed unreasonable. The censorship update will allow users to decide what kind of content they wish to see.

The update is an approach to foster a safer, kinder community for the 500 million active users of the social outlet. Instagram will soon be censoring content such as animal testing, famine, humanitarian crises and nudity.

The blurring of certain content may affect a variety of users including brands, bloggers, photojournalists and photographers. Much of what popularly followed users share could be censored if found offensive by others.

“Soon you may notice a screen over sensitive photos and videos when you scroll through your feed or visit a profile. While these posts don’t violate our guidelines, someone in the community has reported them and our review team has confirmed they are sensitive. This change means you are less likely to have surprising or unwanted experiences in the app,” Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram, wrote in a company blog post.

Instagram will also be adding a new security feature, enabling a two-factor authentication that will require a code every time a user logs in.

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Anchorage-based photographer Jovell Rennie does not doubt that the new guidelines will cause backlash, but thinks that many users won’t necessarily be affected. Rennie is best known for a variety of local camera work, sharing Alaska and boudoir photography.

“I can’t imagine many photographers liking the fact that their images are blurred. I think it comes down to your motivations for using the platform. If you use it primarily for commercial exposure, reaching out to prospective clients, etc., then you might be pretty peeved about the blurring. If you use it for artistic expression, you might not feel as bothered,” Rennie said.

Shayne Nuesca, UAA student and photojournalist, feels that Instagram’s guidelines will result in feeds that are too curated.

“I don’t like the idea that I could be censored if I do decide to make a photograph about a more sensitive issue. When I see a photo that’s blurred, I automatically think that the photo might be distasteful. But most of the time, it isn’t and it actually adds a story to a larger narrative. I would hate to see organizations and photojournalists be labeled as ‘distasteful’ because their photos are censored. It’s really not fair,” Nuesca said.

To Nuesca, expressing yourself “safely” is more suppressive than expressive.

Whether Instagram’s new approach is successful or hurts a fraction of their users, letting consumers have the authority to choose what kind of content they wish to see could be a reasonable solution.