Instagram Community Guidelines: What Are They?

Since Instagram has over 1 billion users now, there have to be some rules set in place. These are called the Instagram community guidelines. However, we all know they’re not guidelines, because if you break any of these guidelines, then you could have your account permanently deleted.

Instagram was created to be a space for creatives to share photos and updates of their life. Designed for photography and visual arts, Instagram has definitely steered away from that a little bit. It’s now one of the most popular social media sites, meaning it can get quite saturated with the wrong thing sometimes.

Instagram wants to make sure their community guidelines help keep Instagram a safe and authentic space where everyone is treated with respect.

What Are The Instagram Community Guidelines?

The main guidelines include:

  • Post only your own photos and videos. Instagram frowns upon stealing or reposting other people’s permission.
  • Always follow the law. It’s a bit vague but hopefully they clear that up later on!
  • Respect everyone. Instagram has been in the spotlight for being a place that isn’t great for mental health. Of course, this comes down to the people on Instagram rather than the app itself, so Instagram are taking online bullying more serious.
  • Don’t spam people.
  • Don’t post nudity.

Instagram celebrates a diverse community of people, but this can only be successful if people are respectful. These community guidelines are here to encourage respect and kindness in this massive online community.

When you sign up to Instagram, you agree to their terms of use, which include all of the guidelines listed above.

So, what happens if you violate the terms of use?

Well, Instagram has the right to delete your content, disable your account, and other restrictions.

Let’s look at each community guideline in more detail.

1. Only Share Your Photos

Instagram’s first community guideline is to only share your own photos or videos, or content that you have the right to post.

This means that you either post pictures you have personally taken, and therefore own the right to them. On the other hand, you can get permission from others to share their content.

One way to do this is to purchase an image. You can purchase an image directly from a creator, or their website, or an online source.

Another way to get permission to share content is to ask. Perhaps you’re a small business and you want to share a customer’s photo of your product. Usually, this is a pretty simple thing to do. You can reach out to the customer and ask permission to share their images. They’ll usually say yes, but of course, the decent thing to do is credit them so they get extra exposure, too.

laptop with harry potter playing, book and candle

In this picture by @librarylights, Kenzie makes sure to credit the creator in the caption and the tag for the photo. This ensures the creator gets more exposure while the shop owner also has beautiful images to post on their Instagram account.

If you believe that someone is using your images without your permission, Instagram will take it seriously. You can fill out a form here to report the incident. Just keep in mind that every country has different copyright laws, and if you want to know more information, the best solution is to contact an attorney near you.

2. Be Appropriate For A Diverse Audience.

The next Instagram community guideline is to make sure that you post content that is appropriate for a diverse audience.

This is a very important section of the guidelines for every user. Instagram claims that they understand that nudity in images is often an expression of creativity. However, for many reasons, Instagram do not allow nudity on their platform.

A big reason for this is because of the age of Instagram users. You only need to be 13 years old to sign up for Instagram and nudity isn’t appropriate for younger people.

Instagram aims to be a clean and neutral platform that is safe for kids, adults, seniors, and people of all attitudes, religions, races, and sexuality. Therefore, nudity is against their guidelines.

This includes content that shows sexual intercourse, genitals and sometimes buttocks and female nipples. Photos of mastectomy scarring and breastfeeding are okay. Nudity in paintings and sculptures is also allowed.

In terms of children, it’s okay to post your kids on Instagram. However, Instagram may remove images where nudity or partial nudity is captured. Instagram says they understand your intentions aren’t malicious, but there are other people on the platform that could use the images inappropriately.

Mum holding young daughter in a field during golden sunset

3. Be Meaningful And Genuine

It’s important for Instagram to remain a place that fosters genuine and meaningful interactions. Therefore, they ask that you play your part in limiting spam. This includes purchasing bots to artificially collect likes, comments, followers and shares.

You might notice increases in spam on the website. Unfortunately, it’s an ongoing issue. Often you might notice your follower count drop drastically. This is usually when Instagram does a crackdown to get rid of users that are violating this community guideline.

Although Instagram doesn’t require that you use your real name on the site, they do encourage users to provide accurate and up to date information. It’s against their guidelines to impersonate other people and to create accounts with the intention to spam or bully.

Kindness is key on Instagram.

drawing of the world with a message of kindness over it

4. Follow The Law

Thankfully, Instagram goes into more detail on this community guideline.

They claim that “Instagram is not a place to support or praise terrorism, organized crime or hate groups. Offering sexual services, buying or selling firearms, alcohol, and tobacco products between private individuals, and buying or selling illegal or prescription drugs (even if legal in your region) is also not allowed. Instagram also prohibits the sale of live animals between private individuals, though brick-and-mortar stores may offer these sales. No one may coordinate poaching or selling of endangered species or their parts.”

These may seem like obvious rules but in a community this large, these things happen more often than one might expect. Therefore, Instagram will take legal action if anyone violates the law.

You must always follow the law when offering to buy or sell goods. If you want to promote online gambling, real money games or the lottery, you need to get Instagram’s permission first.

Instagram also has a zero-tolerance when it comes to sharing sexual content involving minors or threatening to share intimate images of others.

It’s great that Instagram is so on top of these rules to ensure the online environment is as safe and secure as possible.

5. Respect Others Online

Along with Instagram’s guideline to be kind, they also ask that their members are respectful. Instagram will remove any content that contains threats, hate speech, targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, blackmail, harassment and repeated unwanted messages.

In fact, if you feel this happens to you more than you’d like, you can turn your comment sections off to limit unwanted comments.

On the other hand, Instagram does “generally allow” stronger conversation about celebrities, better-known influencers, and politicians since they believe it is that individual’s choice to have a career that is so public.

Instagram does not tolerate bullying based on someone’s sex, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, national origin, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities or diseases.

Person with pride flag painted on their chest to celebrate diversity

Instagram celebrates a diverse platform and wants it to remain a safe space for each individual.

Threats are also not tolerated whether that’s a threat of theft, vandalism or financial harm.

6. Don’t Glorify Self Injury

Instagram faced backlash about their relaxed guidelines last year when young people could easily access accounts and images that glorified self-harm.

Now it is against their community guidelines to do so.

Instagram understands that its platform is a place where people come together during hard times. Often, Instagram brings people together so that others have friends and people to talk to that understand what they’re going through.

Of course, it’s okay to discuss your personal self-injury journey so long as it is not being glorified.

However, it’s against the community guidelines to embrace self-injury. Instagram will remove this kind of content and disable accounts doing this if the account is reported.

7. Be Considerate When Sharing Newsworthy Content

When something major happens in the news, social media picks it up fast. While this is important for spreading awareness, graphic photos and images violate Instagram’s community guidelines. It’s important to remember there are young people on the platform, too.

Instagram add, “We understand that people often share this kind of content to condemn, raise awareness or educate. If you do share content for these reasons, we encourage you to caption your photo with a warning about graphic violence. Sharing graphic images for sadistic pleasure or to glorify violence is never allowed.”

Overview Of Instagram Community Guidelines

Overall, the Instagram community guidelines are very clear and shouldn’t be too difficult to follow. As long as you follow the law, remember the age limit on the app, and remain respectful, you should be in the clear.

If you notice anybody violating the guidelines, you can easily report the account or post to Instagram within the app.

Remember to use Instagram to share positive and important images, videos and content. It’s a platform to encourage creativity and kindness.

By Beth McCallum

I'm Beth, a Scottish writer and bookworm. I'm currently agent hunting for my debut novel while running a candle business from my home. I obsess over dogs, Hamilton, chai lattes and recently, Harry Potter. I know, I'm decades late.

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