The online sex toy retailer WildFlowerSex was blocked last week by Instagram. The company allegedly violated the social media network’s guidelines. In the meantime, the sex shop has regained access to his account, but the shock remains profound. After all, a lot is being spent on the successful presence. A well-known problem for numerous companies, actors and artists in the adult industry.
One of the problems with marketing for sex shops is the increased uncertainty about investing in social media. After all, the quirky Silicon Valley capitalists may at any time think that erotica and adult content do not match the impeccable image of their company. Years of work could simply be destroyed.
This was nearly the case with the WildFlowerSex sex shop. The company used its account on Instagram to publish body positive and sex positive content. Like many companies in the field of sex education and sexual health, the company got in the way of the unsensible censorship guards of the social media giant Instagram.
Amy and Nick Boyajian are the founders of WildFlowerSex. They have won nearly 70,000 followers on Instagram. Their account is an important part of their marketing. Much effort and love go into their account. The shock last week: their account had been permanently deleted without any warning. Access to their own audience was suddenly no longer possible.
Nick Boyajian says: »[Instagram] didn’t tell us how we had violated [the terms], only that we had and we were banned. Within the hour, we were contacted by countless friends and other people in the pleasure industry voicing their concern and asking where our account had gone and how they could help us get it back. We still haven’t been able to get any real answers about why our account was deactivated.«
Amy Boyajian agrees: »Finding our account disabled made our hearts sink into our stomachs. We have poured so much energy and love into creating the educational content for the Instagram and our website, and to see it just disappear without any warning or reason was devastating.«
She points out that although the account often published nudity, it never violated Instagram’s ban on pornography. However, she concludes: »To be completely honest, we kind of had a feeling this was coming. Instagram has noticeably cracked down on many accounts that it has deemed to be too ’sexually suggestive.’ WildFlowerSex’s entire mission is to promote healthy sexual pleasure. Is that a violation of their terms? We didn’t think so, and neither do the hundreds of people who have contacted us and posted about us in the past 24 hours [following the deletion] but maybe Instagram disagrees?«
Debate on legal predictability over social media urgently needed
The operators of the WildFlowerSex shop hope that their experience with the social media giant will stimulate debate. Is it really desirable that sexuality, sexual health, and educational work disappear from social media? Are we in a phase of reactionary conservatism that threatens the hard-won sexual freedom and social talk about sex worldwide?
In addition to this general question, it remains questionable for many companies in the industry to what extent investments in social media appearances are worthwhile. After all, content and new followers remain entirely at the mercy of unpredictable mainstream corporations – most of them based in the United States. An untenable situation. Companies urgently need to establish clear rules and finally offer their commercial users legal certainty for their work.