Users are now specifically forbidden from even threatening to post intimate images of people other than themselves, as well as sexual content which involves minors. Instagram updated its policies on Thursday, and the new rules ban images showing sexual intercourse, genitals and close-ups of fully nude backsides.

Instagram Updates Revenge Porn Rules

Instagram safeguarding image during time of continued growth

Instagram also retains the right to remove images of nude or partially nude minors. Previously, Instagram maintained a ban on nude images and other extreme images showing gore or violence, and the new rules are presumably designed to ensure that the app is suitable for a general audience as it continues to grow.

Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and the company has continued to grow, with over 300 million users currently logging in monthly. Facebook has also had struggles maintaining a balance between freedom of expression for users and the removal of offensive, illegal and inappropriate content, and it appears that Instagram is now fighting the same battle.

Photos of naked children are a particular minefield. “Even when this content is shared with good intentions, it could be used by others in unanticipated ways,” said Instagram.

Social networks more careful with content

The clarification states that images of post-mastectomy scarring and breast-feeding are acceptable, and nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures will not be censored. Parent company Facebook has come under fire for removing content showing photos of art containing nudity.

Updated rules state that the site will also ban posts promoting sexual services, buying or selling illegal or prescription drugs and glorifying recreational drug use. Promoting the sale of regulated goods such as firearms are subject to different rules.

As is to be expected, any posts praising terrorism, organized crime or hate groups are banned. Despite tightening up its rules, the ability of Instagram to remove content which flouts them depends on users flagging offensive posts. To this end, Instagram has built-in reporting tools to let users draw attention to posts that they find to be inappropriate.

Instagram is the latest social network to implement updated rules, following Twitter and Reddit. Reddit was widely criticized in the aftermath of the leak of nude celebrity photos.