Statement by Women For Change on the shadow-banning of Instagram accounts

Social Media allows women to be attacked by other users every day – But then it’s us breaking their ‘community guidelines’

Many times in the past year, Instagram has deleted posts and stories and censored and/or shadow-banned our account. Sometimes, we will find a notification on our screen stating that the post has been removed for “violating community guidelines”.

At this stage, the account will just be banned without letting us know.

In the past, Instagram mainly removed our posts and stories that included content with words like ‘Men are Trash’ or posts about ‘Andrew Tate’ because Instagram sees these as “hate speech” towards men.

However, the most recent post to be removed was another memorial post, honouring a sister brutally taken from us by her boyfriend. This time, it was not the photo/video that caused the post to be deleted; it was, apparently, the captions. Why? We really don’t know because that little content that was shared did not include anything violent.

Women For Change was founded to give womxn their voices back and support survivors, so it is one of our pillars to raise awareness about GBVF in South Africa. That is why we share memorial posts, missing children posts, unpack patriarchal norms and highlight the skyrocketing femicide rates in South Africa.

We have been continuously harassed by men on this app. We have received so much hate speech and verbal abuse. We have read so much fake news about our organisation. We have been sued and even threatened with the worst possible. But nothing has ever been done by Instagram.

We have reported hundreds of accounts that most definitely violated their ‘community guidelines’, but none of these accounts or posts have been removed.

So, while Instagram continues to censor and shadow-ban our account and the accounts of many other activists and people who use this platform to speak up for what is right, it does not remove or ban men who are harassing and verbally abusing womxn.

The patriarchy is in the algorithms – until Instagram tackles their internal misogyny and the rife misogyny allowed to exist on its platforms, they cannot claim to be a safe app for womxn.

The reality is, if we break Instagram’s ‘community guidelines’ again, we risk getting our account removed. This would be devastating for our organisation and our community, who we believe need us.

So to all our supporters, here are some ways to support us:

  • Like, share and save our IG posts
  • Comment on our IG posts
  • Add us to your ‘close friends’ list on IG
  • Search for us if our stories or posts do not come up
  • Switch on ‘Notifications’ for our IG page (you find a little ‘bell icon’ on the top of our IG page)
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok