Iness Rychlik

NAME: Iness Rychlik
PLATFORM & USERNAME: Insta – @InessRychlik
CENSORSHIP: Shadow ban & content ban

What reason was given for your ban?

Soliticing sex and Promoting self-harm/suicide.

Why do you think your post(s) was censored?

I believe it is a combination of two factors. Firstly the Artificial Intelligence is not able to successfully detect genuinely harmful content. Secondly a number of IG users are abusing this system, weaponizing the report button and Meta’s current policy to silence artists whose opinions don’t align with their own. My work deals with the dismissive treatment of women – I have been very vocal about my pro-choice views; one of my images in particular appeared on banners during the protests all over Poland. I have dealt with a wave of threatening and disturbing messages; pro-lifers attacking my page would not come as a surprise.

Were you able to appeal and what was the response?

Yes but they denied my appeals.

What effect has your experience of censorship had on you?

This is a post I wrote in December. The image I used was a phone snap of me standing next to a ‘non-controversial’; piece of mine at an exhibition. IG deleted it last month.

“My account has been targeted by an array of vicious reports, claiming I’m here to solicit sex and promote suicide (such a busy girl I am!).

The only ‘corrupted agenda’ I have for this account is sharing my art – in a digital world filled with sexist and harmful portrayals of women, I wish to celebrate my body as a powerful storytelling tool. Photography has been instrumental in my journey of overcoming psychological trauma and embracing my physical skin disease. My self-portraits have resonated with so many people, who can understand that while some experiences are difficult to talk about, dealing with them through symbolic art can be incredibly healing. Why can’t you?

At the bottom of each report, I am asked: ‘Think we made a mistake? Let us know’. So, @instagram, this is me letting you know.

What’s one thing you want people to know about this topic?

Instagram seems to operate on the assumption that our artistic portrayals of the female form are equivalent to soliciting sex. Meanwhile, the platform allows sexually explicit content to thrive, cultivating bewildering double standards. This discrimination is unacceptable, especially for a company that aims to be at the forefront of technology.

These are all self-portraits; the red marks on my body come from my hypersensitive skin disease, which I often use in my practice to talk about gender inequality (‘Dissection’).

It is concerning that IG will allow images that blatantly objectify women, while silencing a female artist who raises the issue of female objectification through conceptual art. Moreover, the fact that IG sees my creative portrayals of the female form not as a way of self-expression – but ‘soliciting sex’ – borderlines on misogynistic. It’s a touch too close to the ‘she shows her body, so she is asking for it’ rhetoric.

I’m also concerned that despite the mainstream conversation about breaking taboos, artists are accused of promoting self-harm or suicide every time they discuss their pain through their work. To claim that a visually refined image glamourises pain is a shallow and incorrect assumption. Expressive storytelling is at the heart of my work – it’s important to acknowledge the messages I convey, how I question and criticize the societal expectations towards women’s behaviours and bodies. I could not stress enough the importance of photography in my mental health journey. I can relate to the powerful saying about grief – ‘let people deal with it however they choose, not however you feel they should.