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Instagram gets strict on nudity and harassment policy, clarifies what is and isn’t

As every successful website will attest, with growth comes more rules. That’s the situation facing Instagram, which announced stricter and clearer guidelines on pornography and harassment, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, Instagram always had rules in place, but they were vague, and the company took a polite approach and relied on the Instagram community to police itself. That was fine when it was still a small community of users, but since the social network has become the most popular photo-sharing site, it has had to revamp its standards on what can and can’t be posted.

“In the old guidelines, we would say ‘don’t be mean’,” Nicky Jackson Colaco, Instagram’s director of public policy, tells the WSJ. “Now we’re actively saying you can’t harass people. The language is just stronger.”

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Besides harassment, the stricter guidelines pertain to nudity. Basically, it’s still not allowed. But, whereas Instagram before would ask users not to upload adult content, it now strictly forbids it. Perhaps more importantly, the rules also clarify what is considered adult content and what’s not. For example, scars and breastfeeding pics are OK, but nothing gratuitous.

As the WSJ points out, Instagram’s old rules became inadequate in dealing with a global audience that has differing customs. In several recent incidents, users have found their photos removed or accounts suspended because of images that were deemed inappropriate, even though they were harmless or within the previous guidelines. (Instagram doesn’t screen what’s uploaded, but reviews photos when there are complaints.)