A Fat Influencer Says Instagram Is Censoring Her Account—And She’s Paid Thousands to Restore It

Anna Konstantopoulos says Instagram keeps shutting down her account due to fatphobia. She alleges she paid an insider US$2,500 to get it restored.
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Anna Konstantopoulos is out US$2,500 after being censored by Instagram. Photo supplied

A Toronto woman says Instagram is unfairly censoring her posts and shutting down her account because she is fat—and she’s had to pay thousands of dollars to get it reactivated. 

Anna Konstantopoulos, 31, is a fat influencer who often posts about self-love and body acceptance on her Instagram feed, which has 23,000 followers. However Konstantopoulos said since the end of November, her account has been shut down seven times.

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“I advocate for sex workers, I advocate for those in marginalized bodies,” Konstantopoulos said. “Since I really started showing more of my body and advocating for these things, I started getting censored by Instagram big time.” 

Konstantopoulos said it’s “pretty much impossible” to get through to the app or talk to an actual person, so she’s resorted to paying someone who claims to work for Instagram to restore her account for US$500 each time. So far, she’s paid her contact five times, a total of US$2,500 to get her account back. 

“It’s putting a hole in my pocket just to exist on this platform,” she said. 

In a statement to VICE World News, a Facebook spokesperson said Konstantopoulos’ account had been disabled for repeatedly posting content containing nudity and sexual solicitation. (Facebook is Instagram’s parent company.) 

“We want Instagram to be a place where people can express themselves, but we also have a responsibility to keep people safe. We try to write policies that adequately balance freedom of expression and safety, but doing this for a community of a billion people from all corners of the world will always be challenging. That’s why we are constantly re-evaluating our policies and working with experts to ensure we are in the right place," the spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson did not comment on Konstantopoulos’ claim that she’s paying someone at the company to restore her account. A 2019 Motherboard investigation revealed that Instagram influencers whose accounts get hacked often rely on “white-hat hackers” and third-party social media experts to get their accounts back because the official process is so cumbersome. 

Konstantopoulos, who has an OnlyFans account, said after Instagram cracked down on its rules around sexual solicitation in December, prohibiting “sharing of links to external pornographic websites,” she went through her account to make sure everything was compliant. 

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“I edited captions, I deleted posts. I really did my part,” she said. 

Still, she said her stories and posts are removed frequently, or her account is fully disabled. When she does post the occasional screenshot of her OnlyFans account, without links, she said it gets flagged immediately, even as other users openly advertise their OnlyFans accounts. VICE World News has viewed screenshots of dozens of Instagram notifications flagging Konstantopoulos’ posts as violating the app’s rules, as well as posts of other Instagram users advertising their OnlyFans accounts. 

Konstantopoulos said her photos in bikinis or lingerie will get flagged for breaking Instagram’s rules on nudity or sexuality. VICE World News has also viewed at least two posts that were flagged that contained no nudity or references to sexual solicitation. 

Screen Shot 2021-03-11 at 1.31.31 PM.png

An example of one of Konstantopoulos' posts deleted by Instagram.

“The big issue that I’m really speaking up about is you see all these thin women that are posting pretty much full nudity and their posts are staying up,” Konstantopoulos said. “Anyone that happens to be in a marginalized body, whether that be fat, (BIPOC) etc., we’re being censored, we’re being removed and ultimately silenced on this platform.” 

A Facebook spokesperson said while some of Konstantopoulos’ images were removed in error, the account was disabled due to a “significant number” of Community Standards violations. 

A 2019 article from FastCompany stated that Instagram’s algorithms flags photos that show more than 60 percent skin—a standard that disproportionately impacts fat people, especially those who may be in swimwear or lingerie. 

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Instagram denied that claim, telling Fast Company, “We have proactive AI technology to find content that is likely violating our policies which don’t allow for nudity, however there are many signals that are taken into effect. We do not use an algorithm identifying a percentage of skin.” 

In December, Instagram tweeted: “We're seeing some confusion that our Terms of Use update is targeted at sex workers. We want to reassure our community that this isn't true, and nothing will change about the way we enforce our policies on 12/20.” 

Konstantopoulos said she often doesn’t even get an explanation from the platform as to why something gets removed from her feed. Many of the notifications, viewed by VICE World News, simply say her posts went against community guidelines. 

“I had one story removed that was me talking about fitness,” she said. “It’s insane at this point.” 

Meanwhile, Konstantopoulos said for the last eight months she's been dealing with people creating counterfeit versions of her account, one of whom DMed her followers explicit photos taken from her OnlyFans. That account has since been shut down, but others remain on the app, Konstantopoulos said. 

“I actually sent a novel to Instagram explaining what’s happening in my personal life. Someone is making fake pages, harassing me and cyber bullying me,” she said. “There’s no human that you can contact it seems.” 

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Konstantopoulos said dealing with constantly being censored has taken a toll on her mental health and her body image. In December, she said she started to feel suicidal at times. 

“I’m just sick of feeling like something is wrong with my body. That it’s not OK to look how I do,” she said. “It starts to make you feel like crap about yourself.” 

Instagram has previously been called out for censoring photos of fat people, including through the hashtag #fatisnotaviolation, started by Sarah Hostetler Rosen and Lou Xavier in Portland in 2018. 

As previously reported by VICE UK, in October, the #IWantToSeeNyome campaign started after model Nyome Nicholas-Williams, who is Black, was censored over semi-nude images of herself. As a result, more than 22,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling for the app to stop censoring fat Black women. 

In response, Instagram changed its policy to “allow content where someone is simply hugging, cupping or holding their breasts.” 

“We do have to draw the line somewhere, so when people squeeze their breasts in a grabbing motion with bent fingers, or if there is a clear change in the shape of the breasts, that content will still break our rules. This policy will apply across Instagram and Facebook,” the company said in a press release at the time. 

However, Konstantopoulos said since then she’s had images of herself cupping her breasts removed. 

She said she feels it’s important to use her voice and platform to advocate for body acceptance—but she’s close to giving up on Instagram as the place to do that work. 

“I do a lot of good on my platform, yet I’m being punished over and over again. It’s just exhausting at this point,” she said. 

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