Instagram is fighting to keep the community family-friendly, but policing porn and offensive content is going to take more than some banned hashtags.
The photo-sharing app blocks many hashtags from appearing in its search results, from sex terms and curse words to innocent terms like #scumbagsteve (the subject of a popular meme) and even #instagram.
There's a side effect, in that many tags including the banned words are impossible to search—like #thesexpistols or a tag for Tyler, The Creator's Twitter handle (#fucktyler)—according to a blog called The Data Pack.
The site used Instagram's application programming interface (the tool developers use to hook into Instagram's data) and lists of tags and curse words to figure out which hashtags are fenced-off. It came up with an extensive, but incomplete list of blocked tags. The list includes a number of “thinspiration” tags like #loseweight and #proanorexia, which have also been banned on Tumblr for encouraging potentially life-threatening behavior.
Instagram hides innocuous tags like #iphone and #ilovemyinstagram in search results as well. Company cofounder Mike Krieger said last year this was because certain high volume tags add little value to the community.
That doesn't stop users from slapping the #instagram tag on their photos anyway.
Blocking certain tags hides porn and nudity from kids' eyes to an extent, but naked bodies are still prevalent on Instagram. The tags #boobs and #penis are blocked, but some creative spellings like #bewbs and #peen are clickable NSFW hashtags. Instagram also permits tags like #azz, #h0rni, and #gonewild, on which users can find a near-endless stream of nude bodies.
Elsewhere, #proanorexia is blocked, but #proanorexic persists, as does #anamia (a popular tag for anorexia and bulimia), albeit behind a graphic content popup message.
It would seem Instagram is fighting a losing battle in hiding nudity and other potentially harmful content. Meanwhile, tags that arguably promote rape culture, such as #shewantsthed, are still free to browse.