Instagram Deplatforms Director of Netflix's Pornhub Documentary 'Money Shot'

Instagram Deplatforms Director of Netflix's Pornhub Documentary 'Money Shot'

LOS ANGELES — Instagram disabled the account of filmmaker Suzanne Hillinger this morning, only a week after her documentary “Money Shot” premiered on Netflix.

Hillinger’s ban follows the deplatforming of performer Gwen Adora, who is prominently featured in the documentary providing testimony about her experiences as a sex worker trying to have a presence online.

Adora’s Instagram account was disabled March 15, the same day “Money Shot” premiered.

As XBIZ reported, a top executive for NCOSE, the religiously inspired anti-porn lobby formerly known as Morality in Media, bragged earlier this month that members of the organization have “met regularly” with Meta executives responsible for Instagram moderation.

Hillinger told XBIZ that having researched the issue of social media discrimination while making “Money Shot,” she is “extremely familiar” with Meta’s community guidelines and terms of service. 

“I know that I did not violate these rules in any way,” she said. “Last night I posted a story on my private Instagram account writing about how proud I was that we were able to make a film that resonated with audiences and ‘told a nuanced story that gave agency and respect to sex workers without exploiting them, and without exploiting survivors of non-consensual material.’ It was mostly a tribute post to my editor, Alexis Johnson, for doing such a tremendous job with such care.”

Hillinger also cited in her post a comment that performer Siri Dahl, who appears in the documentary, made during an interview for a recent XBIZ article: “So many people are having conversations about sex work and porn that they never would have had without this film.”

Instagram's Vague and Arbitrary Policies

Given that her Instagram account is private, Hillinger speculated that it was suspended for one of two reasons.

“Either an automated flagging system was triggered by my writing the words ‘agency’ and ‘sex workers’ in the same sentence; or else strangers mass-reported my account because they do not like that ‘Money Shot’ provided a mainstream platform for sex workers to talk about how attacks on their industry has affected them,” she said. 

Hillinger added that while making “Money Shot,” she anticipated potentially facing situations like this.

“I knew that there would likely be a target on my back for making a film for Netflix for millions of people to see, that tried to destigmatize online sex work, and for calling attention to the many ways that sex workers are censored and discriminated against on the internet,” she shared. “While a suspension on Instagram was not something I expected to experience, I am not surprised given how many folks in the sex work community get the same exact treatment everyday.”

Meta and Instagram routinely deplatform adult performers and other sex workers by suspending or banning their accounts, alleging violations of the company's vague “sexual solicitation” policy. That policy, borrowed from archaic anti-sex work laws and imprecisely adapted to the online space by terms of service drafters, has been sharply criticized even by the company’s own Oversight Board.

As XBIZ reported, the Oversight Board last month recommended that Meta “clarify its public-facing Sexual Solicitation policy and narrow its internal enforcement guidance.”

XBIZ reached out to Meta/Instagram, but received no comment about the suspiciously timed deactivation of Hillinger’s and Adora’s accounts.

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