Instagram Says Pornhub’s Account is ‘Permanently’ Banned

Pornhub claims its account was “fully PG,” and cites the uneven treatment of mainstream celebrities like Kim Kardashian who post nudity to the platform, compared to adult creators.
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Image: Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic

Earlier this month, Instagram removed the official account for Pornhub from its platform, following pressure from conservative anti-pornography groups.

On Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for Meta, which owns Instagram, told Motherboard: “We’ve permanently disabled this Instagram account for repeatedly violating our policies.” 

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According to Instagram, terms of service violations accrued on Pornhub’s account for 10 years. Instagram claims that it gave Pornhub warnings about posts that violated its terms. Instagram did not say which terms Pornhub violated, specifically, but pointed to its terms of use regarding adult content, nudity, and sexual solicitation, and its guidelines regarding accumulating violations of its terms.

Pornhub posted an open letter to Instagram on Tuesday, endorsed by 63 pornographers, performers, models, and industry activism groups including Riley Reid, Lucy Hart, King Noire, the Free Speech Coalition. In the letter, Pornhub and its co-signatories demand an explanation for why its account—and the accounts of many adult content creators—is continually removed from the platform. 

“We, the undersigned, represent those in the adult industry that have for years been undermined by Instagram's opaque, discriminatory and hypocritical enforcement of its own Terms and Policies,” the letter states. “Sexworkers and performers have been unfairly targeted in the form of bans, shadow bans, suspensions, loss of Live privileges and content removal, despite taking extra care not to violate Instagram's Community Guidelines.” 

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 Pornhub claims in the letter that its account was “fully PG,” and cites the uneven treatment of mainstream celebrities who post nudity to the platform, compared to adult creators. “Pornhub's safe-for-work account has been disabled for three weeks. In the interim, Kim Kardashian has posted her fully exposed ass to her 330 million followers without any restrictive action from Instagram,” the letter states, referring to a photo of Kardashian in a thong as part of a photoshoot for Interview Magazine. “We are happy to see that Kim and the artistic team behind the image are free to share their work on the platform, but question why we are denied the same treatment. While Kim's photo continues accumulating likes and making headlines, members of the adult community run the risk of deplatforming if Instagram decides our pants look a bit too tight to meet its arbitrary and selectively-enforced ‘standards.’”  

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Over the years, adult creators, sex educators, and anyone working in the realm of not-safe-for-work business has had to tiptoe around Instagram’s continually shifting rules about nudity. Many creators have been banned multiple times, and claim that they acted within the site’s rules, but are still deplatformed and lose audiences, income, and visibility in the process.

When the account was first disabled three weeks ago, a spokesperson for Pornhub said that the ban was temporary, “as has happened many times in the past due to Instagram’s overly cautious censoring of the adult industry, a fact that thousands of adult performers deal with everyday despite not violating any of Instagram’s terms of service. We look forward to our account being reactivated, as it always has.” Now, according to Instagram, the decision is final.

Pornhub did not immediately respond to a request for comment.