Instagram Bans #EDM Hashtag

Instagram Bans #EDM Hashtag

Instagram has quietly wiped out its first music-related hashtag.

As one hashtag ban gets lifted (#curvy), another hashtag (#EDM) gets banned. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our Instagramming lives.

When #curvy was recently removed as an acceptable hashtag, because it was being used to share content that violated Instagram’s guidelines around nudity, many were quick to point out that much more explicit hashtags - like #pornlife - were still searchable, and users protested en masse, questioning why a body-positive hashtag would be banned. The #curvy ban was lifted as a result of the backlash, however Instagram now has the tag under careful watch, and the results generated since the hashtag was re-instated have been far less than the millions of images it originally generated. 

Just yesterday, Instagram quietly wiped out its first music-related hashtag: from now on when you search #EDM (because you know, we all do that several times a day), your feed will no longer fill with thousands of neon-hued images and strobe-lit crowd shots. An Instagram spokesperson told TIME Magazine that the tag was banned not because Instagram has a thing against EDM music, or wants to stand in the way of EDM fans expressing themselves, but due to it violating Instagram’s Community Guidelines - in this case, #EDM violated their guidelines around nudity. So, presumably EDM fans going too far when ‘expressing’ themselves.

We’ve all seen the way hashtags get hijacked – the way you can start with a fairly straightforward association-based hashtag that then morphs into something totally bizarre. But for Instagram to ban the tag, the content in violation of the hashtag has to reach critical mass. Which means porn and EDM have become uncomfortably close bedfellows - and we're not just talking Sasha Grey dipping her toe into #EDM DJing. 

Why has the culture of porn and the exploitatation of womens' bodies become so intertwined with EDM? For decades the mass use of designer drugs at raves has led to increased body confidence, which has resulted in unique expression, and fancy dress, amongst electronic dance music fans. For decades those designer drugs have caused increased body heat, and the need for ravers to stay cool by stripping off as they dance with high energy in crowded area with multiple bodies. But in 2015, it feels like there's something more menacing lurking behind all that. This Intagram ban, for one, speaks volumes about how EDM culture is projecting itself. As does the proliferation of "EDM porn" Tumblrs like 'Rave Sluts', 'Raver Sluts', 'EDM Girls', 'Dirty Rave Girls' and 'Festival Sluts' (actual Tumblrs, Google them), accompanied as they are by defining proclamations like "We are Rave Sluts! We live for the music, we live for the rave!". 

Rather than electronic dance music fans simply expressing themselves in unique, interesting ways, modesty and humility have gone out the window - impressionable young women are turning strippers into role models, men wearing shirts reading 'Parties With Sluts' in block letting on the front are grabbing these girls' half-naked asses at music festivals, and then the girls - seemingly unaware that they look like dehumanized sexual caricatures - are playing into it - because "it's the culture". Apparently. Which brings us to the speculation surrounding this ban - there's talk that it's in response to the overdose (and death) of two teenage girls, just two days ago, at California’s Hard Summer, a festival with a heavily-leaning EDM line up. Given Instagram has just announced the wide release of their advertising API (meaning anyone can promote posts), and is on its way to becoming a major mobile advertising business, they may have wanted to disassociate themselves from negative connotations with EDM / drugs / porn and discourage events and promoters from advertising on their medium - if a keyword in their campaigns has been rendered unsearchable / clickable and therefore largely useless. Which means Instagram is actually doing its part to halt the progression of EDM culture into a socially unacceptable, destructive beast. We’ll have to wait and see whether the EDM community will fight back in weeks to come, enough to warrant Instagram lifting the ban. Although if it means less of the below, the #EDM Instagram ban is surely a step in the right direction.

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