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I Reported A Problematic Post On Instagram And It Is Still Up On The Platform

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Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in India. Indian youth, in the 18-35 years age group, has shifted to Instagram and is proactively posting content like photos, reels etc.

Instagram has opened up opportunities for youngsters to become content creators or entrepreneurs. It has allowed them to expand their businesses by engaging with their followers, even outside their friend list.

Instagram started as a feel-good platform where people mostly shared aesthetic photos. The younger audience gradually shifted from Facebook to Instagram for this precise reason.

Representational image. Photo credit: Opinio Juris.

Facebook Was Taken Over

Many youngsters also felt that Facebook was “taken over” by the older generation, who actively shared fake news and videos or wrote something embarrassing on their profiles.

Hence, Instagram became a comfortable space for youth to talk about issues and post things that they liked… Things they didn’t want the elder generation to see or criticise.

Instagram, with its massive audience in the age group of 18-35 years, allowed political parties and their supporters to influence them as voters, or believers.

Many people with an extremist agenda also got a free pass to post whatever they liked on the platform and influence millions.

I Tried To Report Hate Speech On Instagram

My experience with reporting fake news and hate speech on Instagram has been terrible. A post on Instagram openly inciting violence and threats still exists despite reporting it several times.

The account has 1,455 followers and regularly posts about attacking members of the other religion to a point where they misrepresented and insulted the Indian flag.

The hateful post in question. Photo credit: @therightmag, Instagram.

Upon reporting this post and several others, what I received was the most ignorant response I could imagine.

The first response from Instagram was that they were unable to review the posts “due to the high volume of reports” they receive, but their “technology” found that it did not go against their community guidelines.

I was offended, my national flag was insulted and the platform was giving me the most pathetic reason to not take action. Even government offices do not say that they were unable to view my application because they received a high volume of applications.

Photo credit: Writer of the piece.

Dissatisfied with the reply, I scrolled down and naturally asked for a review by a human and not their technology.

To my shock, Instagram replied within minutes of the review and said that the post does not go against their community guidelines, and that I should either block or mute the account.

Photo credit: Writer of the piece.

This incident prompted me to report more accounts violating guidelines—well, at least in my understanding, they did. Not one account has been taken down by Instagram to date. The posts I reported are still visible to all.

So, What About Twitter?

Twitter, on the other hand, is proactive in suspending accounts (temporarily or permanently) and even marks tweets with fake or unfounded claims as “manipulated media” or “misinformation”.

Starkly opposite to this is Instagram, which takes NO ACTION against violators. While their community guidelines are very clear, but in reality, there is no implementation of these guidelines.

Let me make one thing clear, I do not report every post on Instagram. There are several pages whose content I do not agree with, but that does not qualify for it to be reported—not by me, at least.

Hate speech for me is simple—it is inciting violence and promoting disharmony among people. The post I mentioned above is a violation of the Indian flag code and promotes disharmony between communities in India.

Our national flag is our pride and it was misrepresented by a social media handle… Yet, it did not go against the so-called community guidelines of Instagram.

Free Pass To Violators

Instagram, acquired by Facebook, is working on the same principle that gives hate speech and fake news a free pass. It all simmers down to views and engagement.

Facebook and Instagram are least bothered about the impact it has on democracies and communities across the globe. Their vested profit-making interest is visible.

There is concrete evidence that these social media platforms have promoted violence between communities , but they are still doing mere lip service when it comes to implementing their community guidelines.

Raising a voice against social media giants like Facebook and Instagram seems like a herculean task, but it is not entirely impossible. As concerned citizens, we should be aware of these violations and together speak up.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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