Instagram now permits #underboob but bans #sideboob. What?

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on October 28, 2013

From The News Desk

A few months ago we wrote about Instagram going on half-hearted hashtag patrol. The app was blocking users from searching certain hashtags it thought were inappropriate. Anyone who tried to find #bigbootyhoe or #jizz would get a line back saying "no tags found." As though the Internet's collective porn addiction had somehow overlooked the visual feast that is Instagram.

What was weird about the half-hearted hash tag halt was that Instagram blocked any tags associated with a potentially inappropriate word, regardless of what word accompanied it. That meant that the #sexpistols and #fuckmyjob wouldn't show up in search results. But other, far more inappropriate hashtags like #shewantsthed, would show up.

The Internet noticed, and Slate, NowThisNews, New York Magazine, and others covered the hashtag halt.

Now months later, The Data Pack blog, which broke the initial news, ran the search again. Surprise surprise, it found that Instagram has made some changes.

Plenty of the previously blocked hashtags are back up and searchable, like #turnontheboobtube and yes, #thesexpistols.

Some, like the anorexic rallying cry #thinspo, have returned with a warning label. When users search #thinspo they find the hashtag, and when they click it a content advisory notification pops up warning the viewer of graphic images. The label also links to for "information and support with eating disorders."

Instagram is clearly being more thoughtful about its filtering system. Although it has a whole list of blocked hashtags, they make sense for the most part. #thesexpistols and #fuckmyjob have been returning to their rightful place among the free speech netizens. #wank and #milf remain blocked. #shewantsthed is still regrettably searchable.

But the closer you read the blocked and not blocked lists, the more confusing it gets. For example, #thinspo isn't blocked but #thinspiration is. #sideboob is blocked but #underboob isn't. What is the meaning of this? If Miley Cyrus has taught us anything it's that sideboob is the foundational building block for today's modern celebrity, and without it they are nothing.

I imagine Instagram's security team sitting around, cracking Coronas and debating the pros and cons of blocking underboob versus sideboob. Why did underboob make the list when sideboob didn't? Isn't the underboob arguably more pornalicious than the sideboob? Do they actually debate these things?

Or is there just a random collection of interns adding and removing words at random from the filter?

Oh, Instagram.