‘Hollyboob’ Was a Statement Against Instagram Censorship

In the middle of the afternoon on Monday, six people climbed to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. They threw a big letter B over the W, and added a white strip to the middle of the D, and for a short time, the hill declared: “HOLLYBOOB.” 

Six people were arrested, including Julia Rose, the founder and CEO of adult magazine Shagmag, and YouTuber Jack Tenney. They were charged with misdemeanor trespassing since the property wasn’t damaged. Some people wrote it off as a gag—the sign is a target for jokes, like the time someone changed it to say “HOLLYWEED” in 2017. 

But Rose told me that this wasn’t just for laughs; it was a statement against Instagram’s censorship of adult content. 

She said she wanted to get the attention of Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, after her verified personal account with five million followers—as well as her business account for the magazine, with one million followers—were suspended for nudity.  

“My product is nearly identical to that of Playboy’s, and my content may even be considered safer than what Playboy’s has been allowed to publish on your platform,” Rose said. “I want to know how they are picking and choosing which accounts to disable and why.” 

Rose said that Instagram isn’t responding to her now. “They have been extremely unresponsive,” she said. “Ironically the only real response I have gotten is an employee at Facebook telling me to label my next account as a male and it will decrease my chances of getting taken down again.”

Instagram, which is owned by notoriously prudish Facebook, is a constant source of confusion and frustration for sex workers and sex educators who try to use the platform to build an audience. It often removes content citing its nudity or sexual content terms of use that doesn’t appear to violate the rules at all, while leaving accounts like Playboy, Hustler, and Brazzers up. Recently, the platform expanded its definition of sexually suggestive content and solicitation to include prohibiting “sharing of links to external pornographic websites,” further cracking down on anything adult on the platform.

Rose said she feels like Hollyboob got people’s attention, but acknowledges that it’s going to take a lot more than a stunt to make change. 

“I think this affects ALL creators,” Rose said. “The more we allow these platforms to censor us, the more they will continue to do so. There needs to be more communication between the platforms and the creators. I believe women should be able to express themselves in a safe and justified way without being censored and shut down because of their body.”

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