Instagram has apologized to a British photographer after removing her photo of a gay couple kissing, saying the post was removed “in error.” London photographer Stella Asia Consonni uploaded photos of couples as part of an art series on modern relationships, published in i-D magazine. After posting the photo, Instagram removed it, sparking public backlash.
“This post was removed in error and we are sorry. It has since been reinstated,” an Instagram spokesperson said to the BBC.
When Stella protested the removal on her page, English celebrities spoke out against Instagram, including Jade from pop group Little Mix, and singer Olly Alexander, himself an out gay man.
Owned by Facebook, both platforms routinely face scandals for removing so-called controversial content. Activists have rallied against Instagram’s nipple-detection AI, which drew criticism for flagging female nipples for removal but not male nipples. In the past, the site has removed photos depicting breastfeeding and menstruation, frustrating women’s rights groups. Instagram’s parent company has faced ongoing accusations of hiding conservative news, sparking cries of both political censorship and bigotry, which the platform denies.
“I am receiving many hate messages, saying that it’s disgusting and that I should kill myself for posting that,” Stella told the BBC.
While posting the images drew the ire of bigots, Instagram’s position is that removing the photo was an error, not bigotry. Stella told the BBC she plans to showcase the photo, alongside portraits of other couples, in an art exhibit later this year.