Instagram Fact-Checkers Are Now Hiding Creative or Photoshopped Images

Instagram Fact-Checkers Are Now Hiding Creative or Photoshopped Images

As a company, Facebook has quite a prudish mentality when it comes to art and creative works in general. This is why we have campaigns like "Free The Nipple," because Instagram doesn't really seem to appreciate art. What's worse is Instagram is now targeting images they consider "fake," which includes composites and works of a surreal nature.  

One could quite effectively argue that this latest move from Instagram is censorship. It may not be intentional; however, the people behind this decision must have understood the implications of this action. As a platform that is predominantly for images and photographs, I find it difficult to believe that they didn't realize how this would impact artists and creatives. 

If you click on the above post, you'll see how and why Instagram is hiding this particular image from mixsociety_. The changes made to this image aren't even that extreme: the colors have been adjusted for creative effect, and that's pretty much it from a "factual" standpoint. If this is all that it takes for Instagram to want to hide an image, then it looks as though plenty more creatives and artists will be affected. 

Art Isn't Necessarily Factual  

The fact that anyone needs to point this out to Instagram demonstrates just how out of touch Instagram has become from the creative industry and community. Artists that produce wonderful and incredible pieces don't generally operate by trying to be factually correct. That's not how the art world operates. Facebook has become a terrible place to post video content, and now, Instagram is becoming a terrible place to post artwork. The worst thing about this is the fact that as usual, there's very little to no discourse from Instagram to the community. 

Art is an expression of our imaginations, and our imaginations are not really supposed to be limited by facts. The Birth of Venus isn't factual, neither is Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, but we celebrate those works because of how impactful they are. If it was up to Instagram, those masterpieces would be hidden away for not being factual. It's simply incredible to me that a platform that's was specifically developed for photography is censoring works of art because they don't qualify as being a "true." 

The worst thing about this is the fact that this will more than likely stick. It's extremely unlikely that Instagram will change its mind on this move and ultimately, it's going to hurt creatives and artists. Photographers like Erik Almas are one of my all-time favorites, and he produces incredible composite works. Many of his images would not qualify as factually correct based on Instagram's standards and could be at risk of being hidden away. 

Of course, I'm hoping that this is merely an overreaction from me, and this is not something that's going to harm people who put time and effort into their art. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely optimistic about this move from Instagram. 

Photoshopping an Image Is Not a Bad Thing 

If you think that Photoshopping an image is a bad thing, then it's probably because you don't know enough about the subject. I understand that I'm preaching to the choir over here, but even within the photography community, there's this undertone of disdain against Photoshop. Getting it "right" in camera is not a real thing.

Over the last few years, there seems to be this sentiment building against Photoshop, that somehow an artist that produces an image using Photoshop is "cheating." Works that take a great deal of effort to produce get casually dropped into the "oh yeah, but that's Photoshopped" folder as if they're not meant to be valued. The same individuals who comment in such a way are probably not capable of producing something similar anyway. They treat Photoshop as though it's tracing paper, as though there's some template people are using to create all the works they have. Click a button, and art just appears. The skill and dedication required to be able to produce incredible works of art in Photoshop are genuinely beyond me, but I appreciate the effort and talent required. 

I can understand that there may be situations where people have taken things a little too far with Photoshop. A classic example is where someone is retouched to a point where they no longer look like they actually do, and to some extent, I somewhat agree with this. Having said that, why is retouching demonized, but applying and wearing makeup is completely reasonable? Why is a heavy filter on Instagram that makes you look different completely acceptable, but Photoshopping is terrible? 

Instagram itself offers you the tools to make your images look false and fall into the non-factual category. Even still, this hypocritical manner in which Instagram is operating in is nothing more than virtue-signaling . 

Final Thoughts

I understand that we've all probably seen an image where the edits have taken a wrong turn. Compositing the milky way into an image shot at midday is probably not going to get the best of reactions. My favorite one to dislike is where a huge moon is added into an image. I get that there are plenty of unsightly and badly Photoshopped images out there that we wouldn't consider art. The thing is, we can't use those "bad" images as examples or a way to prevent the works of the many talented people that use similar tools. 

In my view, I think Instagram has taken action just because they want to seem like they're doing something as opposed to doing something that actually benefits the community. 

This is just another step for Instagram to find its way atop the pile of mediocrity that it itself has been cultivating. 

Usman Dawood's picture

Usman Dawood is a professional architectural photographer based in the UK.

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This is definitely ridiculous. It’s pretty much obvious when photos are manipulated for the most part. Most of the time, that’s how artists separate themselves from other artists. This goes further than photos though. This “new society” is so blatantly soft that you can’t say or do anything without someone being offended. I, for one, will not walk on eggshells just to try and please everyone. We as artists should be able to create however we want without being censored just because we used photoshop. How far will it go? If I use a curves adjustment layer to add contrast or bring down the highlights will my image be covered? That sounds ridiculous, but you never know. What about if I add a texture to a background, replace the sky that’s blown out because I couldn’t capture it in camera, or liquify wrinkles in a shirt? Sure, right now they’re going after extreme manipulation, but who’s to say where the line is drawn?

Thank you for warning us against facebook and it's censorship.

I am some what happy and not. I do believe social media has become a little too sexual. We need to remember that there are children and impressionable teenagers. Lets be honest, some of peoples "art" is too close to them posting their own porn collection. I think we are too sensitive as "artist". We do not have the right to do what we want. We get so upset if others dont see things our way. I think if Instagram was 18 plus, that could help.

Porn is not what this is about.

You do not understand my point.

Let them filter, fail and open the door to more creative media. These giant "social medias" are just too big to support quality.

No I don't belong to one and don't post of the other.................

While I agree with the sentiments expressed in this article, I can't stress strongly enough that this is in NO way censorship. Censorship is something the government does to violate free speech. Facebook is a private company and, as such, there is absolutely NO expectation of free speech on it, or any other social media platform. You do not have a right to do and say anything you want on any platform you want after agreeing to the terms of service. Being told there are rules is not a violation of your rights.

I agree in theory. However, in some schools of thought there is a difference between being a publisher and a platform. Platforms have certain built in protections legally speaking whereas publishers can be held liable for content.

It seems to me that many of these social media "platforms" are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Whether or not you can be held liable for what you "publish" does not factor into whether or not creating rules regarding the content allowed on your platform is "censorship". No publisher or platform is required to publish anything. Instagram/Facebook has a right to allow/not allow the posting of any content they wish, just as all private citizens have the right to create a competing photographic social media platform that follows different rules.

Perhaps you need to re read my comment.


I'm removing this comment because I'm ashamed of getting involved with toxic people.

No, no need to rewrite it. I mentioned nothing about whether it's censorship or not. In fact if you did re read what I wrote, you might notice that the word "censor" is nowhere to be found in my comment. That wasn't my point at all. In fact, I preface with the agreement that it's not censorship for much of the same reasons you outline in your initial comment.

So, at the end of the day, your reading comprehension is lacking. So, you're right, re reading it probably wouldn't do you much good. You seem to have an axe that you're hellbent on grinding.

So, grind away.


I'm removing this comment because I'm ashamed of getting involved with toxic people.

Your silly ad hominem obviously indicates your inability to both comprehend and be able to hold a reasonable conversation.

I'll draw you a picture. I agreed with you. It's in black and white. I then pointed out that there are other implications beyond censorship in some schools of thought. I then plainly and clearly (well, to most) explained what those implications beyond censorship may be.



I'm removing this comment because I'm ashamed of getting involved with toxic people.

Good grief. Your initial response was clearly indicative of not understanding what I wrote, thus a lack of reading comprehension. It wasn't an ad hominem.It was a statement of fact. You calling names is.

Your behavior is typically indicative of someone more interested in grinding their particular axe, which can be understandable. Doubling down on nonsense is not.

Anyway, I'm not going to continue this waste of time. I'll just allow you to have the last word so you can grind away.

Incorrect. What you're trying to say is that this is not a violation of free speech, about which you would be correct. Private institutions are not beholden to provide you with a platform for your speech.

However, it absolutely, definitively is censorship.

ridiculous, who says instagram is just for factual photographs? Are we banning the dog-selfie-filter too then? those do seem pretty fake to me and not very factual.

Many people use it to share their art. their composites, photoshop projects.. etc.. where is the line then? What about a sky replacement? A focus stack? will this grading be done by someone that actually has an understanding on how to take images or do composites? Or will it be a team of the keyboard warriors who write "fake" and "photoshopped" below every image that they can't make themselves?

What makes something fake news in the eyes of instagram?

I don't feel the rainbow mountain example is fake news. it's not sharing a location, it's not trying to promote an area, it's not trying to be "news".. If a tourist company was using this try and lure people to a fake location, then yes, I would consider it possibly "harmful" to others. But that doesn't appear to be the intend of this particular example.. it is creative and it is art. So why would it be flagged as "fake news" when it isn't trying to BE news.

What if it's a legitimate camera perspective trick?

Why doesn’t this surprise me? Facebook is the worst of both worlds. They accept political propaganda and fake news as legitimate, classify Breitbart as a serious news source and censor the (female) nipple instead. Now art.

It baffles me that people still use Fakebook, let alone Instasham too 🤦‍♂️

There is a lot of legitimate personal communication going on with Facebook.

Maybe so, but there is much better communication going on offline.

I stay 5 years ahead, instead of being stuck in the mud with the rest...

I live literally across the planet from my family and most of my friends, I can't exactly have an offline conversation with them.

While I dislike facebook and am moving away from it, I totally understand why it is still relevant today.

Dont listen to the "I have friends all around the world!" People always say that they talk to them all but, really its just liking a few photos and a few comments. People dont want to admit its because they are addicted

Gee you pissed off a few people here... must have hit a nerve. I agree! I legitimately have no home. I was born overseas, lived in Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore and now somehow am in Australia. I have never lived in my hone country. I have friends all over the world and no Facebook. If I want to talk to someone I call them or message them. In reality you communicate the most with people around you.

It's not very respectful to call Yavor a dummy. It's wrong to speak to others on the forum in that manner. Be kind and respectful, even if someone appears to be incorrect in what they have said.

What's the difference between a men nipples and women nipples?
What's to be ashmed? What does it offend?

Better algorithms.

An actual effective process to appeal.

Defined rules for Political ads and commentary from parties involved.

There are so many things that could be done instead of the half measure, blanket all approach that has currently been implemented; but they seem to elude you.

Also you have to have an incredibly small mind to have such an arrogant outlook on people. Stupidity would an upgrade.

Be better.

I'm certainly aware why this is necessary or why instagram would censor some images if whatever is in them might be harmful or false depending on the situation.

But, looking at the example of the image of the "rainbow mountains". It isn't really harmful, yet it is being flagged as such. It's just.. a photoshopped picture for the sake of being a photoshopped picture or art.

Now, if a tourist company would share this image with a location and ads saying; "Book your holiday now! come see our amazing mountains!" with the intend on getting more bookings by "lying" about what these mountains actually look like. Then yes, I would consider that to be harmful and it deserves to be flagged as such.

But again, that doesn't appear to be the case here, and it shows that this flagging system could lead to some abuse where artists, who use photoshop or compositing, can get their work flagged even though there was never the intend on it depicting reality.

Obviously you want to avoid news agencies or political parties to photoshops images in order to sway the public. But there must be ways in preventing that without possibly "hurting" and affecting the public who just want to make pretty pictures or art.

Instagram's actions have nothing to do with politics at all.

Instagram was started with the concept that someone would take a picture with a mobile device and immediately post it with no human processing onto the site. Many of the people who used Instagram transformed it to a site on which "art" -- created in any number of processes -- could be displayed and, OMG, marketed. The egregious owner of Instagram (i.e., Zuckerberg and Facebook) don't like it when the customer has the power. Remember, also, that consistent with the owner's mentality, decisions about "art" are not made by people, but by computer programs with "infallible" and rigid algorithms. Instagram and Facebook have become the very definition of "what you see is what we better get." It's anti-art and it's anti-human.

Am I the only one who didn't get any popup or "fact check" message? I see all the content featured here with no issues. What's the problem? Am I missing something?

I think the bigger problem glossed over is these mega repost accounts stealing images and not crediting the creators and models. For example: read the mixsociety caption "DM for credit" WTF? I have to DM you to ask who created the image? POS
This makes me so mad and it is a common trend. Wish Instagram would crack down on these accounts.

damn, there goes kirby jenner lol

This work of Instagram is really not very appropriate. Instagram Being an Image sharing Portal and providing so many options within the app to manipulate an image should not be stopping Artists from doing the same with other applications.
Hopefully Instagram comes up with a better Algorithm and stops doing this.
- Images Retouch