Instagram Keeps Erroneously Blocking This Trans Dating Site for Being an Escort Service

One again, the Facebook/Instagram algorithm is a #fail.

Salty, which bills itself as The new dating + relationships newsletter for women, trans & non binary people, has had multiple ads rejected by Instagram over the last few weeks, claiming that it violates guidelines because it represents an escort service The Daily Beast is reporting.

The pictures showed two transgender women smiling in the sunlight; a black, plus-sized Instagram star grinning from a magazine cover; a disabled model posing with a phone; an intersex activist laying in a wreath of paper hearts.

All were advertisements for Salty, a digital sex and dating publication that centers women, transgender, and nonbinary people—particularly people of color, plus-size models, and other bodies usually beyond the margins of mainstream feminist magazines. But according to Instagram, the images were actually advertisements for escort services and had no place on the platform.

Over the last six weeks, Instagram has rejected Salty’s ads over and over again. Instagram finally overturned its decisions on Wednesday night, but only after Salty spoke out on Twitter and drew attention to the situation. Salty’s founder believes the incident speaks to a broader technological bias against women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color.

“I started trying to advertise four to six weeks ago,” Claire F., Salty’s founder told The Daily Beast. “I posted one and it was rejected on the grounds of promoting escorting. I was like, ‘that’s trash.’ But at Salty we’re very used to having to navigate all these roadblocks.”

That flag was algorithmic, the spokesperson added. Facebook uses artificial intelligence to report pages it suspects might be breaking its rules against sex work, which forbid “content [that] facilitates, encourages or coordinates sexual encounters between adults.”

Since launching last year, Salty has repeatedly found itself at odds with social media platforms. One of the digital publication’s magazine-style covers featuring plus-sized model Amber Wagner was removed from Instagram without explanation, and was only reinstated after other media outlets commented on the deletion, Claire said.

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