Last week, Instagram at long last updated its design. Such cataclysmic modifications, or even the announcement that they’re coming, often result in public outcries. This minimalistic modernization move by the foremost photo-sharing app was no exception.
Also last week, a guy named Nick updated a list of censored and banned Instagram hashtags. Many of the hashtags are lascivious, illicit, or just straight up disgusting, which makes their censorship defensible, but a significant handful make one scratch one’s head and do the old thinking-face emoji.
Nick explains that he “wrote a program to search each tag, and check if it was still banned or censored.” This program sifted through over 10,000 tags, and Nick then posted the full list. Some tags are censored, meaning that some of the tag’s photos are unseemly. Or, in official Instagram parlance:
“We may remove the Most Recent section of a hashtag page if people are using the hashtag to post abusive content in a highly visible place. To protect the quality of the hashtag page, we may hide that section temporarily.”
Others are downright banned: when you search the hashtag, you’re met with an apology and an explanation that “the page may have been removed.”
All that background aside, here are the 11 most ridiculous of the #BannedOnInstagram bunch.
Okay, okay. The descriptor “snow bunny,” given current slang, is in no way appropriate, and associated photographs cannot be said to deserve a place on Instagram. Still, can’t a guy get a little relief from modern culture’s consistent dreariness with some cute-ass bunnies frolicking around in a beautiful snowfield? Behold:
Okay, fine, not the best option. Here’s a better one:
Tell me the ability to look at these images and videos wouldn’t shine a light on your otherwise meaningless days. C’mon, Insta. Allow us to look at literal snow bunnies. It’d be for the betterment of humanity.
Worth noting: there’s this odd thing that Google does, which seems, well, offensive:
Okay, fine: fine. Kansas can be censored.
Why is this a popular hashtag in the first place? Let’s envision a character onstage: Tom. Tom is supine on a couch; he’s yet to fully awaken, but is unconsciously scrolling through Instagram. Tom faces a tough day at work. It’s Monday, he’s got a meeting with his boss about something he knows not what, and he’s aware that his one remaining banana, which he likes to include with his morning cereal, is rotten.
Tom, rousing slowly, now, intuits that he might benefit from feasting his eyes on some paradisiacal photos. So he navigates to the “search” page on Insta, then pauses. How best to find these paradisiacal photos? he muses. I know: hashtag… saltwater. Yes, yes. But of course. The audience, privy to his revelation, audibly, collectively, inhales.
Speaking of popular hashtags, hashtag-popular is not merely censored — it is banned. One imagines a deity descending from the clouds, robe-clad, decreeing (in an imposing, reverberating voice): Thou shalt not post quote-unquote popular hashtags on the popular photograph sharing application [the deity gestures to signify air quotes, here] Instagram. A philosopher would have a ball sorting this one out. There’s something meta, some second-order shit, going on here.
Not to mention that someone unfamiliar with the app may wonder why Instagram would want to ban popular photos.
It also seems very juvenile, almost emblematic of Instagram’s very function, this hashtag. On Instagram, one throws a photo online; said photo receives likes; one considers oneself, and one’s photo, popular. (“I exist,” one says, “and not only do I exist, but I am also popular.”) Instant gratification and affirmation.
Nope, nope, nope: banned.
An imagined newspaper clipping:
IN BOLD MOVE, INSTAGRAM BANS #LIKE
On Wednesday afternoon, Instagram officials approved a measure to ban the hashtag “#like” from its app. Co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger cited the fact that perverted photographs frequently found their way onto the hashtag’s dedicated page. The app’s users, faced with this existential crisis, recoiled. As one user reports, “It just feels, like, disrespectful — you know?”
Systrom was quick to respond. “We’re not trying to say anything about our users, here. We understand that people would very much prefer the ability to hashtag-like things, but we must sacrifice this once-likable and innocent hashtag.” A source at the company, speaking on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the move was seen internally as a literal sacrifice, to ward off the internet’s abundant fun-spoilers and trolls.
This just seems pretty cruel. Despite what’s written above, people sometimes really need affirmation and gratification. Censoring hashtag-alone limits these brave sharers’ abilities to receive said affirmation and gratification: their photos no longer show up in the Most Recent section. Strangers cannot see the photo upon its posting and so cannot dole out virtual sympathy via double-tapped hearts.
True to form, America. True to form.
Again, doesn’t this just seem a bit rude? Plus, whoever’s posting photos with this hashtag is inevitably violating some neglected social norm. There are two basic permutations: I could post a photo of myself, then add the hashtag in question, which would express an odd insecurity; or, I could post a photo of someone else — or a few other people, or myself and a few others — and add the hashtag in question, which would express an odd sort of patronization. Maybe it ought to remain censored, after all.
Six repetitions of the letter ‘y’ really drives the point homeeeeee, and the addition of ‘asf’ — short for “as fuck” — eliminates all further doubt about the photograph sharer’s arousal.
We’ll just leave that one there, sans comment.