The Warwick Rowers, a UK-based university crew team that stages an annual naked photo fundraiser to help fight homophobia, had its Instagram account suspended without notice. Why were the Warwick Rowers banned from the popular photo-sharing platform? It appears they ran into issues with Instagram’s nudity restrictions. Luckily for the team, they have since been officially reinstated on the platform with all their followers intact.
Upon being removed, Lucas Etienne, the campaign’s social media coordinator, said, “These were images that had already been published on our Instagram account without a problem. They were all images from our print calendars, so had been reviewed for conformity with our own strict rules on implied nudity, as well as social media standards.”
The photos themselves often showed the rowers’ backsides with just a smidgen of pubic hair, but never any sexual or genital content.
In a tweet, the Warwick Rowers wrote, “As you may have noticed, our @instagram account has been permanently deactivated without any reason communicated to us. We’re hoping this is a mistake and are waiting for them to allow us back on the platform to keep spreading our message.”
Considering the widespread popularity of Instagram, being banned from the platform would seriously hinder the group’s ability to fundraise.
The group began its naked photo calendar fundraiser 10 years ago as a way to benefit the team, but since 2012 the team has handed over some of those proceeds to the nonprofit Sport Allies, which is itself dedicated to reaching out to young people who are “challenged by bullying, homophobia or low self-esteem.”
We also recently reported on — and questioned — how that Sport Allies money is being spent, though the group says it delivers anti-homophobia programs in local schools, makes university sports more inclusive and encourages young people “who need advice about their sexuality” to connect with resources.
This also isn’t the first time the Warwick Rowers have dealt with censorship of their images on a social media platform. In 2016, YouTube banned the team’s behind-the-scenes video as pornography.
Last week we reported that Rain Dove, a genderqueer activist and model, posted a video pointing out the hypocrisy in Instagram’s nudity policy, which allows male nipples (and much more, as the Warwick Rowers banned then un-banned case shows) but disallows female nipples.