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Sex Workers & Instagram: How to appeal unfairly deactivated accounts

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So here we are, Sex Workers in the height of the digital age, relying on social communities such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote our services, connect with others in our tribe and stay connected to our community.

You’d think we’d be reasonably welcome in 2019 however, in April 2018 a bill was passed into law in the US known as FOSTA SESTA. Since SESTA/FOSTA passed, owners of popular online platforms (Such as Back Page) have responded by censoring completely lawful activity from their sites. Other sites hosting lawful activity have shut down entirely.

This law allows greater policing of these sites, which then become vulnerable to lawsuits from trafficking survivors. However, the language of the law is sketchy, penalising all websites that ‘promote or facilitate prostitution’ meaning a lot of sex-related content and websites are disappearing and sex workers around the world using US-based sites are being cut off - including in Australia.

This means Sex Workers + Instagram = A Bad Time

So, you wake up one day, can’t log in to your Instagram and receive this (or similar) notification:

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What this means is:

  • Someone (or some) have taken offence to your content and reported it as inappropriate, etc

  • Instagram’s automation (build to “protect” the platform) may have mistakenly deactivate an account temporarily

If you feel you have been unfairly targeted and have no violated the very subjective community guidelines or affected by the automated algorithm, please follow the steps below to lodge an appeal.

1) Select ‘Please Let Us Know’

Fill out your details (Name, User Name, Email, etc) and in the body copy write something along the lines of:

“Dear Instagram,

My account has been unfairly disabled for violating community guidelines and I believe this is incorrect.

Can you please explain why my account has disabled and other verified accounts such as <insert example handles if you choose to> that explicitly show nudity and sexually suggestive content are still active?

I am requesting a manual review asap and will escalate this further if required.

Thank you,

<Insert Name Here>

Please note: it is up to you to provide examples of verified Instagram accounts showing explicit content. Why i think this adds to the appeal is that you are asking for your content to be compared to an account that has been verified, most likely has millions of followers and has not been disabled. You are not asking for that person’s account to be disabled, just for an explanation as to why theirs is active, not yours.

2) Get on Facebook Live Chat

After you have lodged the request on the Instagram app, there is no way of knowing if the request has been received or checking the status of the outcome. The first time this happened to me, I waited almost 3 weeks and nothing happened. Ain’t nobody got time for that …

Facebook owns Instagram and is accountable for all complaints, etc. They only have live chat for Business Support, but if you fill in details before the live chat to get around this, customer service live chat will accept your request.

Link to access below:


Things to remember:

  • ALWAYS be polite, DO NOT be rude. The person on the end of the chat is there to help you and truth be told, people are more motivated to be helpful to those who are polite and gracious vs abusive and entitled

  • Copy and paste verbatim what you put on the app message

3) Next Steps

The customer service person will listen to your request and you need to specifically ask for a manual review and for a case number to be raised and shared with you on the chat. DO NOT END THE CHAT until a case number is issued, this is very important.

Once the case number is issued and shared with you, you should be advised that your case will be reviewed and you will be advised of the outcome within 48 hours of raising the appeal.

Hold on to your case number, this is your get out of jail free card!

4) Outcomes

Both times I have followed this process, my Instagram has been restored within 48 hours of receiving a case number and was notified of the good news by email with an explanation (mistake by automation).

If you buy followers, experience an increase in followers organically or get ‘too much’ likes or engagement in a very short period of time, this triggers Instagram’s ‘Automated Gate Keepers’ to review your profile and close it down. As Sex Workers, of course our content is considered to be questionable, so this is happening more often than not. Also, feedback from fellow Sex Workers is that the larger your following, the more likely this will happen to you. Oh, the irony …

I really hope your Instagram account is restored and this has helped provide some clarity on how to get a resolution.

Good Luck!