This is Obscene!

       

In the past couple of weeks, I have made it no secret that my beloved Instagram art page has recently come under attack by Meta's AI super computers. In fact, my public display of frustration on this matter is most likely how you ended up reading this page. Thank you for being a part of my art journey and joining me in a space where I can freely express my art without interruption or scrutiny! Let's dig in!

Though public nudity has always been thought by most to be unacceptable, it has always been generally and universally accepted in the form of art. Artists have studied the human form in grave detail since ancient times. Let's think back to the astounding artistic feats of the ancient Greeks. It is just a human body after all, we all have one (a topic I will save for another post). So why now? Why after years of freely posting my art on Instagram, is it suddenly under siege? And why can no one answer this question? Well...the truth of the matter is that no one is around to answer it. 

Let me explain... After weeks of refusing to delete my posts from the IG app, requesting review of my account status, continually writing to the "Report a Problem" page, and stating my case thoroughly, complete with screenshots of their own Recommendation Guidelines I was presumably violating (spoiler alert, I wasn't violating them), I was met with no response or valid explanation. No coherent human ever returned my inquiries. But not to worry, I got an automated reply on my notifications tab which read "We've reviewed your account status. Thank you for your feedback." Wonderful! Surely NOW my account must be recommendable again! No such luck.

So what does this mean exactly? And why wasn't I told when my account first became a problem? Questions I regrettably do not have all the answers to, but will do my best to explain. Essentially, when your Account Status is "not recommendable" IG blocks you from being seen on the discover page and reels feed, fundamentally prohibiting you from reaching new viewers who may be interested in your work. But here's the best part, they never tell you that this is happening. I received no notification that I was potentially violating their guidelines. How much effort I wasted on video and post content over weeks, unaware that it had no destination or audience, is not a subject I wish to dig into in this post, but something that is more than mildly infuriating. 

So how do you know if you are "not recommendable" if they never actually tell you? The only way I knew is when I started getting abnormally low views on my videos. I then consulted with YouTube to find out how to tell if I was being "shadowbanned," as the kids call it these days. And loe and behold, buried in the abyss of my IG profile settings, we all know what I found! 

Instantly I thought "How many artists is this happening to? Surely there must be others." Well the answer is yes... but also no. After reaching out to a number of fellow figure artists on the platform, some of whose work is far more realistic than my own, it seams to be hit or miss. My personal thought is that, once your account is flagged, it is then under scrutiny for an undefined amount of time. In other words, once the computer finds you, you are found. I was even getting flagged on posts that IG had previously deemed OK in my first round of debate. This, to me, illustrates clearly the absence of human judgement and the unforgiving nature of the computerized AI we all rely on to assist us in our online endeavors.  

Yes, we have all grown to love AI when it finds us that perfect gift we've been searching for, but is the computerized version of human discernment and good judgement really what we want? Is this really the direction we want to go? We like to think we are progressing as a society, but can we truly move in a positive direction when we take humanity out of everything we do while simultaneously demonizing the actual human body? I, for one, am shocked by the harshness with which my art was judged, without consideration for the message or intent of such art. And let's be honest, we have all seen far more suggestive things on social media than the human figure expressed with some charcoal. If there's one thing we need more of in society, in my opinion, it's not computers, its humanity.