instagram finally clarifies why we can’t #freethenipple

And a certain tech giant is to blame.

by Emily Manning
02 October 2015, 5:15pm

Image via @sukiwaterhouse

When Naomi Campbell's recent #freethenipple attempt was taken down by Instagram administrators, many regarded its 20 hours of visibility as a small victory. Typically, the platform removes "explicit" images rather swiftly (a shot of comedian Chelsea Handler's bare breasts was censored after just 30 minutes) -- as per its controversial Community Guidelines. But it seems Campbell's record-breaking post wasn't the win we thought, as Instagram's Kevin Systrom confirmed this week that the guidelines are here to stay, and offered some long awaited clarification on why they exist in the first place: Apple.

During a talk in London on Wednesday, the app's co-founder and CEO explained that because Instagram is housed in the tech giant's App Store, it -- like every other app -- is designated an age rating. The paradoxical guidelines that govern this rating system have received a fair share of criticism all their own, but basically: the store only permits explicit nudity if an app is rated 17+. Instagram is currently rated 12+, a status Systrom argues allows it to appeal to a more diverse audience, including younger users that aren't interested in nudity.

Many #freethenipple advocates have pointed out gender biased holes in the Community Guidelines' logic -- for example, women photoshopped male nipples on top of their own and were not found in violation. When Orange is the New Black actor Matt McGorry photoshopped female nipples on top of his own, he too faced no reprimand. Unsurprisingly, media outlets have also challenged Systrom's rating claims. As Mic argued, Twitter is rated 4+, but is full of a lot more nudity than nipples. "There are porn accounts galore, as well as videos and photos of nudity. Yet Apple hasn't brought down the hammer on CEO Jack Dorsey and company," the publication pointed out.

As #freethenipple advocates have long argued, these rating systems and guidelines affirm and perpetuate the idea that the female body is an inherently sexual object. Systrom might be right to call out Apple's strong arm, but deeply rooted patriarchy is the real stranglehold. 


Text Emily Manning

Free the Nipple