Demand Religious Equality on Instagram

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Is supporting religious discrimination an official policy of Instagram? The Facebook owned social media giant seems to willingly censor and punish Satanists, using irrelevant Community Guidelines as a means to limit the accounts of users.

A meme parodying golden age Christian comic strips was taken down for supposedly "targeting a private individual or sharing personal information to harass or blackmail". A promoted post with a t-shirt displaying a pentagram was blocked under the guise of selling "sexual products or services". We don't know what Instagram does with their t-shirts, but this arbitrary action seemed unimaginable until we witnessed it firsthand.

Simply removing a post in error would be less of an offense on the social network's part, but we have determined a pattern of repeated harassment and discriminatory actions coming from within the offices of Instagram. From attacks on the individual account to preventing advertising (yes, they've actually refused our money) we've seen it all. When a post is removed, it also delivers a strike against the account in question. A penalty known as a "shadow-ban" is imposed which restricts the user's account, making any hashtags used in posts invisible, their account undiscoverable to potential new followers, and rendering their posts less visible. In addition, a warning is sent that any future violations may result in the suspension or termination of the account in question.

But what if there were no violations in the first place? The options for recourse with Instagram are non-existent. Messages go unanswered, appeals and requests for help ignored, and there's absolutely nothing the average person can do to address these problems with Instagram.

This seems to be a clear cut case of religious discrimination. Posts involving Satanism are repeatedly removed, absurd reasons are given for penalizing the account, and we are left with no option to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, Christian pages on Instagram which attack women's rights and the LGBT community are allowed to remain, which appears to show a position of official religious preference being taken by Instagram.

We demand religious equality on Instagram. If Christians, Muslims and other religions are allowed to have a platform, then the same should apply to Satanists.

We are calling on Adam Mosseri, CEO of Instagram, to make a statement addressing why the company is systematically targeting Satanic users; to re-train or dismiss the employees who have been complicit in these discriminatory practices; to penalize or remove Instagram users who improperly report posts; and to eliminate future incidences of Instagram employees' improper use of irrelevant policies for the purpose of religious discrimination.

Personal story

As a small business serving a religious minority, we rely on our social media accounts to interact with customers, to advertise, and to have our products seen by people around the world. This is how the rent gets paid and how we put food on our plates. When we are penalized it hurts our business, and in turn hurts our quality of life. To know that this is being done on religious grounds is unsettling to say the least.