Diverted Photos Of Breasts To Defy Instagram's Censorship

The "Taboob" project seeks to challenge the codes of the platform, with all kinds of pictures diverted from the breasts.

When does Instagram censor a nipple? If there are one or more? What if it's half-hidden or crushed by fingers? If the skin is white or black? One thing is for sure, it's when they're female nipples.

Artistic director Jasper Declercq and photographer Noortje Palmers wanted to answer these questions while having a little fun with the social network algorithm. "Taboob wants to discover what makes a breast, a breast, and when, according to Instagram, a breast is no longer a breast," the two Belgians explain.

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Their account was launched at the beginning of July. Two days later, Instagram deleted it completely, then it finally came back from the digital dead. There are currently 33 publications. In total, the duo plans to post 75 of them.

"Instagram's algorithm is designed to block naked female breasts. But what triggers it? Would Instagram still see a breast if the nipple was stretched like Pinocchio's nose? Squished in-between a sandwich? Or hidden under a layer of ice?", one can read on their website.

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On Taboob's website, you can see a replica of the Instagram account, with the photos that have been censored by the network. Those that do not pass: a nipple crushed with fingers, breasts multiplied in the form of mountains or a nipple surrounded by hair. On the other hand, Instagram does not recognize a nipple sandwiched between two slices of bread, and a breast covered with aluminum or lemon slices.

Breasts In All Their Forms 

"Instagram has a computer that studies many photos in order to identify a breast - this process is called automatic learning. So it is a robot that decides whether or not a photo should be removed," explains Jasper, interviewed by Vice France. And Instagram's censorship revealed some rather surprising aspects: "It was first the white breasts that were removed. All the brown breasts were still online. As if their standard was a white chest.

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Without becoming the flagship account of the #FreeTheNipple movement, the two artists are having fun challenging Instagram's rules, and hope to offer a diversity of breasts, to counterbalance with images of smooth, perfect and unrealistic bodies that rot the network.

"I just hope that an action like Taboob will make these rules more flexible," says Noortje. After the Instagram account, Taboob will become an exhibition, in the autumn in Antwerp, where the profits from buying photos will go to breast cancer research.

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By Sirine Azouaoui, published on 17/07/2019

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