NAME: Tori Ford (she/her)
PLATFORM & USERNAME: @medicalherstory
CENSORSHIP: Shadow ban

What reason was given for your ban?

Medical Herstory is an international not-for-profit on a mission to eliminate sexism, shame, and stigma from health experiences. We run social media accounts where we debunk common stereotypes, provide medical facts, and promote health literacy and patient tips. We cover topics around sexual, menstrual, and reproductive health, in addition to topics around how ableism, racism, and gender bias shape health and medicine. We have seen increased censorship in the past few years, with hashtags including #sexualhealth, #sexeducation, and #sexpositive and #selfpleasure leading to shadowbanning. We have also seen our posts commenting on these issues being rejected from advertising.

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

Instagram and TikTok have been increasing censorship on their platforms due to purity culture. Unfortunately, these guidelines uphold shame and silence around the very issues that sex educators are working so hard to destigmatize. Censorship around sex is nothing new, there is a long history of information on birth control, abortion, and sexual pleasure being banned long before social media ever existed. This is the modern and digital version of the same sexism, shame, and stigma that has always existed around women and gender-diverse people’s bodies, sexual health, and pleasure.

Were you able to appeal and what was the response?

We have appealed our ads that were rejected promoting information on gender bias in medicine but have not been successful.

What effect has your experience of censorship had on you?

Censorship reinforces that topics of sexual health should not be discussed, that words like vulva and vagina are taboo and inappropriate. Medical Herstory has refused to censor our language by adjusting the spelling of words (ex. v@agina, $ex) to avoid alerting the censorship and shadow-banning algorithms. We believe these words are not dirty, they are not inappropriate, and they deserve to be heard. This censorship has a negative effect on sex educators as it pushes us to question whether these platforms deserve our content, our labour, and our efforts, while also wrestling with the reality that social media remains the best way to reach a wide audience that needs the education and empowerment we offer.

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

Censorship is not going to stop Medical Herstory’s movement to eliminate sexism, shame, and stigma. We need to speak up, speak louder, and refuse to be shamed or silenced.