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Instagram Didn’t Really Consider an “R-Rated” Version, and That’s a Good Thing

Reports of an R-rated Instagram have been greatly exaggerated.


Reports have been flying after Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit that Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom revealed in a panel that the company has mulled over creating a separate “R-rated” version for content deemed unsuitable for regular Instagram. Instagram says this was never actually the plan, and judging by the issues people have had with the service over censorship, we’re actually glad.

On a panel with Lena Dunham, who’s criticized Instagram’s censorship in the past, and Katie Couric, Systrom responded to the question of an R-rated version of Instagram that “have been discussions” and “even then, the question becomes, ‘Who decides what’s R-rated?'” Though Instagram has since told Mashable that those “discussions” apparently weren’t serious ones and such a thing has never actually been on the table, Systrom has hit the heart of the issue with the last thing he said.

The problem with censorship on Instagram has never been that certain types of content aren’t allowed across-the-board. It’s always been in the unfair double standards with which content bans are applied—generally, they tend to have a problem with women’s bodies and body positivity. The flaw is that the service already separates content that’s appropriate and not appropriate based mostly on user feedback. Just creating a separate home for the “objectionable content” outside of Instagram’s trash bin wouldn’t do anything to fix the problem, and we’re glad Systrom sees this.

All a separate, R-rated Instagram would do is give the company another excuse to ignore the double standard by claiming they do allow things to be posted, just on separate sites. We haven’t exactly been thrilled by the way Instagram proper has dealt with these issues so far, but at least they’re not planning on deliberately putting us further from a real solution.

(via Uproxx and Vanity Fair)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.