Instagram accused of adding to skin condition stigma by blocking psoriasis hashtags
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Instagram has been accused of censorship and contributing towards the stigma of a skin condition after blocking four hashtags from their platform which relate to psoriasis.
The hashtags #psoriasisuk, #psoriasiscommunity, #psoriasisawareness and #getyourskinout have all been blocked.
If you try to search for any one of these hashtags a small amount of images are shown above a message explaining that other images using the hashtag “are currently hidden because the (Instagram) community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines.”
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition which affects around 2% of the U.K. population, it causes raised flaky plaques of skin to appear on a person's body. There are many different types of psoriasis, all with different levels of severity, for which there is no cure.
Many sufferers use social media platforms like Instagram to improve awareness of psoriasis and as a way of celebrating their bodies and feeling more confident in their own skin. Discovering prominent psoriasis hashtags have been blocked has caused a lot of anger among the psoriasis community.
Due to its appearance some people mistake psoriasis plaques for a contagious rash, leading to feelings of shame. This is why many sufferers say they find comfort in sharing photos of their skin online as a way of fighting the stigma and learning to love the skin they are in.
Twenty-seven-year-old Holly Dillon uses Instagram to share photos of her psoriasis, she runs the #GetYourSkinOut movement which aims to encourage other psoriasis users to share their own photos using the hashtag.
She’s angry that this hashtag has now been banned and has called out Instagram for stopping the #GetYourSkinOut movement which she started in 2015.
Posting on Instagram in response to the hashtag block she wrote: “Sharing photos of me and my #psoriasis was a way for people like me to be able to visibly identify and relate to what it’s like living with a chronic autoimmune disease like #psoriasis it’s about empowering people to not be afraid to speak about it, show it and above all do whatever they need to do to live a happy life. #getyourskinout Is an open platform without boundaries to allow for positive educational conversations about psoriasis.”
Psoriasis Association, a UK charity for people affected by psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, are also calling on Instagram to provide clarification as to why they have blocked these particular hashtags rather than simply removing the content that has been deemed inappropriate.
We contacted the Psoriasis Association who told us:
“The impact of psoriasis on mental wellbeing has been well-documented, and unfortunately people with psoriasis commonly report feeling stigmatised and isolated by their condition.
“Social media has greatly contributed to the creation of a supportive and welcoming community, where people with psoriasis are able to find others with similar experiences to them, share advice and spread awareness.
“Of course, genuinely offensive posts and images need to be moderated, but the problem with dismantling these entire hashtags is that people with psoriasis have been prevented from engaging with one another and the wider online community, further increasing the stigma and isolation that people with psoriasis all too often feel.”
Instagram did not respond to our request for comment.