instagramInstagram has updated its community guidelines to explicitly allow photos showing breastfeeding or post-mastectomy scars, but other forms of nudity are still forbidden.

“We’re not changing any of the policies,” Instagram’s director of public policy Nicky Jackson Colaco told The Washington Post, but she also explained that Instagram “added in detail around questions we’ve gotten over and over, and into places where [users] needed more information.”

The image sharing app has been criticized in the past when photos of women breastfeeding were taken down for violating the service’s strict no-nudity rules, and after a social media campaign and a good deal of press, Instagram reinstated the blocked images.

This week, Instagram took it a step further by updating its guidelines to allow photos of breastfeeding, but it maintains a strict policy toward almost all other forms of nudity.

“We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram,” the community guidelines say. “This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.”

While this change is seen as a positive step by many Instagram users, others still criticize the app for censoring nudity.

“Facebook’s rules about what art/speech to censor are still in many ways more sexist and repressive than the Catholic Church was in the 1500s, when painting and sculpture were their photography,” Internet artist Ronen V told Techcrunch. “But at least spelling out the rules will make using Instagram less of a russian roulette game for creators, now that we can see exactly what’s approved speech and what’s verboten.”

Colaco argues that “we obviously want to be a place where people are really creative and express themselves. The hard part is that there is no one standard for this stuff. It’s really tough to judge when something crosses the line.”

Image credit: Instagram (c)

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