Instagram right. Scout Willis wrong. When corporate control is a good thing.

Posted on June 9, 2014

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In an age where we expect greater self regulation from organisations, why do we find our media falling over themselves to give credibility to the views of celebrity daughter Scout Willis and her attacks on Instagram.

Instagram have in place a policy which attempts to prevent images of violence and nudity. And why not? After all, we often see pieces in our media that talk about the public pressure on sites like twitter and Facebook to regulate content with more care.

Additionally, we know that far too much media space is afforded to misogynistic images of women. Thankfully in recent months we’ve seen the demise of publications like Nuts that have encouraged this.

For too long society has allowed gratuitous images of women (and sometimes men) to pervade our advertising and entertainment. We have disrespected the way that the human form can be shared to the point that it is not appreciated. It’s is abused.

So, it is disappointing to see Scout Willis campaign to #freethenipple in an attack on Instagram’s policy. What is more saddening is our media’s willingness to give her column inches worth of coverage. Of course, this latter point is not a surprise. After all, it is a symptom of the very same loose attitude towards women and the human body that media outlets have shown for decades – woman say ‘nipple’ and campaigns against nudity clause and media fall over themselves to cover it.

This week, BBC’s news beat covered the story. A picture of a naked Scout in NY (with her breasts covered by editors) accompanied the story. They also supported the article quoting a tweet from John Morden. Who is John Morden you may ask? Nobody. In fact, after a brief investigation by myself I discovered that Mr Morden had 7 followers and was following 10 people.

So what responsibility do communicators have in covering all issues? Is it right to give voice to a minority or is it right to exclude that minority? The freedom of speech debate.

Of course nobody’s views should go without being heard, but do they need to be broadcast. Nobody should be persecuted for their views, but should they be given undue attention? More than any other industry, the media industry should admire a business attempting to implement self regulation and applaud it. Rather than position Scout Willis as an equal voice with an equal opinion to Instagram should she not be position quite clearly as a minority voice with a skewed opinion.

She says she is not an ‘attention seeking, over-privileged, ignorant, white girl.’ I think her views suggest she is certainly at least 3 out of those 4 descriptors.

Hats off to Instagram, and dear media, please take note that if one minor celebrity shouts jump it doesn’t mean that the rest of us don’t have our feet firmly on the ground – so please help us keep them there.

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