The ‘silhouette’ and ‘buss it’ challenges are two of a thousand social media trends to feature on our screens this year, but what makes these videos different? The nudity and lack of monetization on social media platforms and the conflict with every individual’s right to showcase their body in whatever way they choose. Both of these movements have caused a stir online, and have led to questions of how these platforms are blurring the line of censorship and moderation.
Dr. Carolina Are speaks out about this at her discussion named “Shadowbans, nudity, censorship and moderation at Mozilla Festival 2021. She first took the time to vocalise the importance of social media being a space of freedom saying: ''It is important that social media platforms and big tech companies remain true to their initial promise of giving users their platform on the internet to actively express their freedom of speech.” This was followed by her experience of being a pole dancing performer on Instagram and the abuse she received whilst online.
Her experiences saw leading social media platform Instagram issue an apology in 2019 after taking down dozens of videos from her page, deeming them explicit, as well as for enacting a policy that amounted to censorship of the pole dancing community as a whole.
Shadowbanning, the method used by social networks to “quietly silence” an account by blocking engagement but not blocking the ability to post, was used against Carolina and thousands of others within the community.
Now, the question of how we solve a problem like content moderation is undoubtedly a difficult one. Matters of human interest, accountability and the safety of internet users are not always the highest priority of big tech companies, but change has to occur if people within these industries – or regular users – are to be able to showcase themselves in a particular way.
“I think it all comes down to transparency,” says Carolina Are, “We need social media to be more about international human rights than community guidelines, we need it to start having NSFW filters to prevent unnecessary censorship, and we need platforms to work with users more closely and listen to their feedback”.