In what appears to be yet another instance of social media censorship of the adult entertainment industry, filmmaker Suzanne Hillinger had her Instagram account disabled by the platform. This move comes only a week after her documentary »Money Shot« premiered on Netflix. The documentary features sex worker Gwen Adora who had her account banned on the same day that the movie premiered.
Hillinger’s experience echoes the trend of adult performers and sex workers being routinely deplatformed by Instagram for allegedly violating the platform’s »sexual solicitation« policy. This policy has been criticized for its vagueness and reliance on outdated anti-sex work laws.
Hillinger shared that she was aware of the possibility of facing censorship while making »Money Shot.« However, as she explained to XBIZ, she believed that she was within Instagram’s community guidelines and terms of service. She speculated that her account was flagged for using the terms »agency« and »sex workers« together or because of mass reports from people who did not appreciate that the documentary gave sex workers a mainstream platform.
Hillinger’s Instagram account was set to private, further underscoring the arbitrariness of Instagram’s policies regarding sex workers. Additionally, industry reporters from XBIZ wrote earlier this month that a top executive for NCOSE, formerly known as Morality in Media, claimed that they had »met regularly« with Meta executives responsible for Instagram moderation. NCOSE is a religiously inspired anti-pornography lobby.
While the deactivation of Hillinger’s Instagram account is not surprising, it is still concerning. »Money Shot« aimed to destigmatize online sex work and to highlight the discrimination that sex workers face online. As performer Siri Dahl noted recently, the documentary has started conversations about sex work that would not have happened otherwise.
The Oversight Board recommended that Meta »clarify its public-facing Sexual Solicitation policy and narrow its internal enforcement guidance.« However, there has been no comment from Meta/Instagram regarding Hillinger’s account deactivation.
This situation is just one more example of the need for greater clarity and transparency in social media policies regarding sex work. While the adult entertainment industry has become more mainstream and accepted, it still faces significant obstacles when it comes to online presence and representation. Additionally special interest and religious hate groups keep pressuring companies and politicians to censor the internet and stifle free speech.