A popular porn star had her account removed after she joked about having sex with Instagram’s CEO, and the incident is raising questions about Instagram’s treatment of sex workers.
Kendra Sunderland, who had a verified account and 2.2 million followers at the time, posted a topless photo to Instagram. While some tried to report the post, Instagram's automated system did not find the post in violation of community guidelines. Sunderland, however, claimed her posts weren't removed because she was "blowing" the "CEO of Instagram," Adam Mosseri, who is married and has three children.
After posting a few topless photos without consequences, Sunderland went live on her Instagram Story, drinking White Claw off a dildo, and made similar claims.
“Hey guys! I just wanna let you know I’m not deleted yet," Sunderland said. “I’m batshit crazy. I might be sucking off the CEO of Instagram. But whatever it is, I’m here to stay!”
“Over a billion people use Instagram and at times that means we make mistakes," Facebook, which owns Instagram, told the Daily Beast in a statement. "[Sunderland's] account violated our policies and we’ve now removed it. This person has no connection to executives at our company, and claims that she received preferential treatment are baseless.”
Sunderland told the Daily Beast she was simply joking around on Instagram after drinking a few White Claws and clarified she has never even met Mosseri.
Alana Evans, an adult performer and the head of the Adult Performers Actors Guild (APAG), called out Sunderland on Twitter for her behavior. Evans said she knows many adult performers who have been removed from Instagram for posting less scandalous material.
Sunderland said she wasn't trying to upset other performers, but she believes "every woman should be allowed to post their nipples."
Sunderland also claimed it was "very clear" that Instagram "discriminates" against sex workers.
"I too would see people posting worse stuff than me and getting away with it," Sunderland tweeted. "At first I was frustrated but then realized we're all fighting the same fight."
Evans, along with other adult performers who have had Instagram accounts wrongly deleted, has been in negotiations with Instagram to establish more fair treatment of sex workers on the platform.
Instagram maintains that sex workers are "subject to the same policies as everyone else."
"We do not disable or take action on accounts simply because they are run by adult performers or sex workers," Facebook wrote in a statement to the Daily Beast. "As a result of [conversations with APAG], we made changes to minimize the number of accounts that were mistakenly removed under our sexual solicitation policies. We also re-reviewed hundreds of accounts sent to us by APAG at different points, and restored accounts that were removed in error."
Sunderland told the Daily Beast she is currently trying to get her account reinstated.
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H/T the Daily Beast