Instagram are censoring your posts using AI

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Chris Dodkin
Chris Dodkin Veteran Member • Posts: 9,165
Instagram are censoring your posts using AI

Instagram are busy censoring your images, using AI, as you post them.

They are subversively imposing an unwritten, and unadvertised set of image standards, and actively seeking to limit the distribution of certain image types on Instagram.

Let me show you a recent example.

As part of a shoot for an apparel company, I supplied them a detail shot for their lookbook and social media, featuring one of their new lines of leggings and tops.

This is the image:

Shot using Fuji GFX 50S and 63mm lens - Los Angeles CA.

They loved it, it was exactly what they wanted to show off their logo, and unique legging design.

They proceeded to post it to their Instagram feed, and added hashtags to allow new people to find the post, and hence see and hopefully buy their products.

They used a set of hashtags that described the product and it's intended use:

#tights #leggings #active#activewear #sportswear #gymoutfit#gymclothes #fitnessmotivation #fitness#fitnessjourney #gymgear #sportluxe#athleisure #fitfam #fitspo #yogapants#fitgirls #fitbooty #lifting #workout #npc#veganbooty #workoutwear #jfitnesswear#gymgear #girlswholift

All within the guidelines laid down by Instagram.

But here's where it get's odd - NON OF THE HASHTAGS WORKED!

A check of each hashtag showed that non of them featured this image in their feeds. It was invisible to anyone who was searching by hashtag.

So the only people who could see that the new image had been posted to the feed, were existing followers of that feed.


We discussed the issue, and I wondered if one of the hashtags they'd used had previously been blacklisted or banned. You hear people refer to this as a Shadow Ban.

An easy way to test this was to post the same photo, in a different feed, with just one test hashtag, something obscure and unremarkable.

I did exactly that, with one single hashtag. Same result. THE HASHTAG WAS BLOCKED!

So how was the image distribution/visibility being blocked?

I went back and checked on some previous posts.

This is a cover I'd shot for a magazine, which they'd posted to their IG feed, promoting the new magazine issue launch.

Fuji GFX 50S - with Godox AD600 and Elinchrom Litemotiv 190

To my surprise, they had the same issue - NON OF THEIR HASHTAGS WORKED.

The makeup artist from the shoot had posted the cover on her feed as well, to promote her work.

When we checked her feed, same problem, no working hashtags for this image.

Intrigued, I tested it by posting the same image on my feed, with one hashtag. Same result. THE HASHTAG WAS BLOCKED.

I started to wonder if the images themselves were the problem, because other images were posting ok, with their hashtags working perfectly.

I deleted the cover post from my feed, and posted a version where I'd self censored the image in PhotoShop, using a Pixel effect.

To my surprise, this image posts perfectly, and I can add a full compliment of hashtags, which all work as you'd hope/expect.

So the image content was directly effecting how IG hashtags worked - as you posted - in real time.

Looking at the first image with this new insight, I'm going to guess that the Instagram AI software sees the fabric color as 'nude', and assumes it's an inappropriate image for Instagram.

So Instagram are blocking the ability for folks to legitimately post and promote their work on Instagram, even though they are doing so well within the written rules governing IG posts.

They are doing this without any warning, or notification, and they appear to be deciding what's suitable for us all to see.

They are censoring the platform, and preventing people from promoting their business and work to attract new followers

This is destroying the usability of the platform - and seems to be  a very subversive way of doing business. There is no official statement of the 'rules', no notification, no ability to contest, and complaints through their fault notification system go unanswered.

Doing some research, they may be using the Lumos system developed initially for FaceBook, to ID the content of posted images using AI - but are now using this to deliberately limit how certain image types are seen and promoted on the Instagram platform.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar?

Are photographers ok with companies like Instagram choosing what's suitable and what's not for public distribution, without telling us what they're up to?

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Your time is limited, so don't waste it arguing about camera features - go out and capture memories

 Chris Dodkin's gear list:Chris Dodkin's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm X100F Canon EOS-1D Canon EOS-1D Mark II Fujifilm X-Pro1 +38 more
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