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Instagram on blast for censoring gay family pic as 'graphic content'

Instagram on blast for censoring gay family pic as 'graphic content'​

Gay couple
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The social media platform is in hot water after users noticed a bizarre content warning attached to a sweet picture of a gay family.

Instagram censored a photo of two gay dads holding their newborn child, labeling the wholesome image as “sensitive” and “graphic” content.

On Mar. 6, Men Having Babies — an international nonprofit that is “dedicated to providing gay men with educational and financial support to achieve parenthood through surrogacy” — posted the image to their Instagram account to advertise an upcoming surrogacy conference and expo set to run from Apr. 26 to 28 in Berlin, Germany.

After it was published, Instagram covered the image with a “sensitive content” warning that read, “Sensitive Content. This photo may contain graphic or violent content… [or] images that some people might find upsetting,” forcing users to click on it to view the photo, LGBTQ Nation reports.

Instagram has since removed the warning, and it now appears as originally intended.

The advertisement for the nonprofit’s event features Liverpool-based couple Sam and David (who go by @scousedas on Instagram) and their newborn Jude. The photo pictures the couple with their foreheads together as they embrace their baby, with one dad kissing the top of the child’s head. There is nothing graphic about the image, and Instagram users regularly post photos posing with their newborns without being slapped with a “content warning” from the social media platform.

While it’s unknown why Instagram put the warning on the image, Ron Poole-Dayan, Executive Director of Men Having Babies, told LGBTQ Nation that some people see two men with children as “threatening” and “worthy of scrutiny.”

“People don’t see us as natural parents,” Poole-Dayan said. “Some cannot easily forget that [gay men are] also sexual beings.”

The “content warning” wasn’t removed until March 14 after an outcry on social media, including users who commented on the post, leaving messages like, “Really? Content warning? Two parents nurturing their child?”

Another user wrote, “Well @instagram I guess there’s some explaining to do? Since when is a family picture of two parents and their child in need of a Sensitive warning?!"

In response to people questioning Instagram’s decision, Men Having Babies commented that they have no idea why the censorship occurred because “we think it’s a beautiful picture of a precious moment between two dads and their newborn.

”The couple in the photo also commented, “not sensitive but our beautiful family!”

Leanna Garfield, the social media safety program manager at GLAAD, said that this incident “reveals serious flaws in Instagram’s content moderation system” and that the warning wasn’t removed for seven days despite being “flagged multiple times,” Pink News reports.

“Graphic content overlays are a valuable tool to mitigate extreme content — That shouldn’t include something as innocuous as a photo of two fathers with their newborn,” Garfield said.

PRIDE reached out to @scousedas for comment but did not hear back before publication.

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Ariel Messman-Rucker

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.