A social media influencer believes she’s been ‘shadow banned’ on Instagram because of her size.
Georgina Horne, a curvy blogger known as @fullerfigurefullerbust and based in the UK, recently noticed a lack of engagement with her posts, which largely focus on body positivity.
She thinks this is due to being shadow banned – also known as ghost banning, stealth banning, and comment ghosting – which is when a user is blocked from a particular community without that individual’s knowledge.
This practice is particularly problematic for influencers who use hashtags. Once someone is shadow banned, only the user and their current followers will see posts when they search for those hashtags.
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Georgina claimed her posts are rarely featured in hashtag sections and her likes have “vastly depleted”. She said in the caption of a recent post of herself in a bikini, “If I were a slim woman posting similar content then this wouldn’t happen. Fat bodies are being muted, and I’m not ok with that.”
She feels her content empowers others and doesn’t want them to miss out on it. “[A]nd yet because my body isn’t ‘perfect’, I’m given a disadvantage,” she wrote.
“The size 10 women showing how at some angles they have chins and a stomach roll get 468010k likes — because that’s acceptable. That’s temporary. My big fat body isn’t. And it’s punished.”
It’s unclear when — or even if — Georgina’s purported shadow banning began. “I obviously am not categorically stating or accusing insta,” Georgina tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I just have seen a shift.”
That shift is a marked drop in engagement. Throughout the past year, each of her posts has consistently attracted between 500 and 5,000 likes, with some exceptions getting up to 15,000 likes.
Georgina isn’t the only one who’s noticed a major change. Two months ago, plus size model Carina Shero started a petition against this practice.
“Instagram has been silently terminating and shadow banning accounts that feature plus size and fat people that are unapologetic in showcasing their bodies in lingerie and sensual poses and are breaking the stereotypes around larger bodies,” she wrote on Change.org.
Another woman who claimed to have been shadow banned tried to get to the bottom of it: “I have appealed my account hundreds of times over the last several months, and Instagram has not responded even once. The followers I have accrued over the last several years, all of my pictures, business contacts, and all of the other accounts I followed — which inspired me daily — are all gone. Instagram needs to end its discriminatory practices immediately!!”
While plus size women have only spoken out about this issue recently, shadow banning in not new. Last year, Instagram acknowledged the problem. “We understand users have experienced issues with our hashtag search that caused posts to not be surfaced,” they wrote in a statement.
An Instagram spokesperson told Be that shadow banning is in fact not real and was an apparent glitch.
The official word is Instagram is not trying to censor plus-size models. According to Eva Chen, Instagram’s Director of Fashion Partnerships, shadow banning is a term made up by influencers for when their pics don’t show up in their filed hashtag, making their pics only visible to people who already follow them and minimising their reach and ability to gain new followers.
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