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Pics or It Didn't Happen: Images Banned From Instagram
Left to right: @arvidabystrom, @rupikaur_Photography by © Arvida Byström, Rupi Kaur

The photos Instagram doesn’t want you to see

Arvida Byström and Molly Soda release a new book full of images that violated the platform’s Community Guidelines

Ever wondered what happened to all the images removed from Instagram for violating its Community Guidelines? After putting out an open call asking avid Instagrammers to submit their deleted photos, Arvida Byström and Molly Soda have produced a new book Pics or It Didn't Happen: Images Banned From Instagram which features hundreds of them

Instagram censorship has been a tricky topic of conversation ever since the app came into existence, and Bystöm and Soda have always been vocal about their own opinions surrounding it, with Soda previously telling Dazed, “The female body is constantly policed – why would Instagram be any different?”

With over 220k followers between them, Pics of It Didn’t Happen collaborates on their tireless efforts to push the boundaries of how we view the female body via their art and the amount of photos they have themselves had removed from Instagram. “As women, we grow up learning to be critical of our own bodies, as well as other women’s bodies – there is a great sense of shame embedded into all of it,” explained Soda. “There is a great fear that surrounds the female body – a nude photograph immediately becomes pornographic even if that is not the intent.”

“The female body is constantly policed – why would Instagram be any different?” – Molly Soda

Instagram’s Community Guidelines state they will remove anything “violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic, or sexually suggestive”. While some photos seem to be a breach of these rules – full frontal nudity, let's say – others are less obvious – a woman with a mobile phone being held to her ear by her hijab. 

With a foreword written by author of the radical 1997 novel I Love Dick, Chris Kraus, and image submissions of Petra CollinsRupi KaurHarley Weir, alongside many others, the book also includes essays breaking down Instagram's Community Guidelines. It’s as empowering and as bold as both Byström and Soda’s much-loved Instagram accounts and reminds us that the conversation around the restrictions and expectations of women’s bodies still has a way to go.

Pics or It Didn't Happen: Images Banned From Instagram by Arvida Byström and Molly Soda will be released on 6 March. Find out more about the book here, published by Prestel Publishing