Read the full article by Jesselyn Cook at


The app’s shadow ban on vaguely “inappropriate” content has disproportionately affected female users.

Female pole dancers, fitness instructors and sex workers who use Instagram have started changing their gender to male on the app. The widespread deception is in response to a sexist policy the tech giant introduced earlier this year.

In April, Instagram began hiding photos and videos that it considers to be vaguely “inappropriate” without explaining what specific kind of content that includes or alerting affected users. Such posts are algorithmically blocked from being featured in the Facebook-owned website’s public Explore and hashtag pages, which help grow people’s accounts by giving them broader exposure.

This kind of covert censorship, known as “shadow banning,” has disproportionately affected women and members of marginalized communities, including those whose livelihoods depend on Instagram — leaving many urgently seeking ways to restore their visibility on the platform.