A social media influencer believes she’s been shadow banned on Instagram because of her size.
Georgina Horne, a curvy blogger known as @fullerfigurefullerbust and based in the U.K., recently noticed a lack of engagement with her posts, which largely focus on body positivity. She thinks this is due to being shadow banned (also known as ghost banning, stealth banning, and comment ghosting), which is when a user is blocked from a particular community without that individual’s knowledge. This practice is particularly problematic for influencers who use hashtags. Once someone is shadow banned, only the user and their current followers will see posts when they search for those hashtags.
Horne claimed that she’s “defo been shadow banned” because her posts are rarely featured in hashtag sections and her likes have “vastly depleted.” She said in the caption of a recent post of herself in a bikini, “If I were a slim woman posting similar content then this wouldn’t happen. Fat bodies are being muted, and I’m not ok with that.”
She feels her content empowers others and doesn’t want them to miss out on it. “[A]nd yet because my body isn’t ‘perfect’, I’m given a disadvantage.” Additionally, Horne has a problem with the people who are in the spotlight. “The size 10 women showing how at some angles they have chins and a stomach roll get 468010k likes — because that’s acceptable. That’s temporary. My big fat body isn’t. And it’s punished.”
It’s unclear when — or even if — Horne’s purported shadow banning began. “I obviously am not categorically stating or accusing insta,” Horne tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I just have seen a shift.” That shift is a marked drop in engagement. Throughout the past year, each of her posts has consistently attracted between 500 and 5,000 likes, with some exceptions getting up to 15,000 likes.
Horne isn’t the only one who’s noticed a major change. Two months ago, plus size model Carina Shero started a petition against this practice. “Instagram has been silently terminating and shadow banning accounts that feature plus size and fat people that are unapologetic in showcasing their bodies in Iingerie and sensual poses and are breaking the stereotypes around larger bodies,” she wrote on Change.org. People commiserated with Shero in the comments. “I’m being shadowbannced for daring to believe I’m sexy too,” Vivienne Rose wrote. “I made it as far as 80k the first time, before being deleted for no reason. This time I was close to 60k when my followers dropped thousands overnight a week ago, and my account stopped growing.”
Another woman who claimed to have been shadow banned tried to get to the bottom of it: “I have appealed my account hundreds of times over the last several months, and Instagram has not responded even once. The followers I have accrued over the last several years, all of my pictures, business contacts, and all of the other accounts I followed — which inspired me daily — are all gone. Instagram needs to end its discriminatory practices immediately!!”
While plus size women have only spoken out about this issue recently, shadow banning in not new. Last year, Instagram acknowledged the problem. “We understand users have experienced issues with our hashtag search that caused posts to not be surfaced,” they wrote in a statement. “We are continuously working on improvements to our system with the resources available.” Instagram has not responded to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.
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