The social network removes graphic images of women giving birth, which it categorises alongside pornography. Can the Empowered Birth Project force a change of heart?
At the end of 2017, Katie Vigos, a Los Angeles-based nurse, launched a petition to allow uncensored photographs of childbirth on Instagram. Since she started her Empowered Birth Project page in 2014, her follower count has grown to almost 300,000, but the images of the process she seeks to celebrate, educate and inform women about – and help them heal from – are often removed by Instagram. Categorised as offensive material alongside pornography, threats of violence and hate speech, multiple images of childbirth have also been removed from smaller, similar accounts.
“The female body in the midst of giving birth – blood, pubic hair, buttocks, the image of a baby exiting a woman’s vagina – seems to trigger people to report images,” says Vigos. “But there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to show photos of physiological birth. It’s straight-up censorship.”