Social media platform Instagram, operated by Meta, momentarily suspended on Wednesday the account of the far-right group Gays Against Groomers, only to reinstate it a few hours later.
The group broadcasted their reinstatement on X, formerly known as Twitter, expressing their defiance with a post: “UPDATE: Instagram has RESTORED our account after we appealed and raised hell about them suspending us this morning! Thank you to everyone who helped get the word out. And to all of our haters, of which there are many, cope and seethe. We will never be silenced!!”
A GLAAD spokesperson blasted Meta’s inconsistent moderation policies in a statement to The Advocate.
“Meta’s temporary suspension of the ‘Gays Against Groomers’ Instagram account today, and of the ‘Gays Against Groomers’ Facebook account for three days last month seems to indicate that the company has to some degree determined that the account is in violation of Meta’s Community Standards, which state very clearly that ‘we don’t allow hate speech.’”
The temporary suspension came amidst escalating efforts by a coalition of organizations urging Meta to enforce its community guidelines concerning the account.
In September, The Advocateexclusively reported on a report by Media Matters which outlined how Meta failed to moderate content that violated the terms of the platform.
A person close to ongoing discussions between advocacy groups and Meta who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Advocate that the reinstatement stemmed from political pressures within Meta. They speculated that while Meta’s trust and safety team likely found the group to violate the platform’s guidelines, an intervention might have come from the company’s political team to avert the scrutiny of Republicans in Congress, who have been critical of social media companies for purportedly suppressing conservative voices.
The Advocate reached out to Meta through multiple messages to shed light on the reasons behind the suspension and subsequent reinstatement of the account but did not receive an immediate response.
This incident highlights the continual challenges surrounding digital free speech, content moderation, and the onus on tech giants like Meta to curb hate speech and misinformation on their platforms. With advocacy groups advocating for more stringent content moderation policies to ensure user safety and foster a hate-free online environment, the unfolding situation further fuels the broader discourse on balancing freedom of expression with the responsibility of mitigating hateful content on digital platforms.