Although these policies only came into effect this September, in July Instagram and Facebook updated the Facebook Community Standards to expressly ban sexually suggestive use of any emoji.
Instagram’s standards are mirrored by the Facebook Community Standards.
“Content makes the aforementioned offer or ask using one of the following sexually suggestive elements: Contextually specific and commonly sexual emojis or emoji strings, or regional sexualized slang, or mentions or depictions of sexual activity (including hand drawn, digital, or real world art) such as: sexual roles, sex positions, fetish scenarios, state of arousal, act of sexual intercourse or activity (sexual penetration or self-pleasuring), or imagery of real individuals with nudity covered by human parts, objects, or digital obstruction, including long shots of fully nude butts”
These new terms specifically prohibit for example the use of the peach emoji alongside the eggplant with any addition sexually suggestive comment is now deemed “sexual solicitation.”
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In an investigation conducted by BBC journalist Thomas Fabbri into social media bans when he realized the new Facebook Community Standard update.
By specifically referring to “[commonly used] sexual emojis or emoji strings” in such a broad way, Facebook expands the standards for what is considered “suggestive elements.”
Instagram reported to the Post, “[Content] will only be removed from Facebook and Instagram if it contains a sexual emoji alongside an implicit or indirect ask for nude imagery, sex or sexual partners, or sex chat conversations. We aren’t taking action on simply the emojis.”
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This nearly all inclusive ban did leave an exception to the rule allowing users to “to discuss and draw attention to sexual violence and exploitation.”