We’re Sexual Health Educators – Why Are Our Social Media Accounts Being Silenced? | HuffPost UK Life

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After being shadowbanned, censored and blocked, sexual health educators, coaches and practitioners like Douglas say they are being pushed off the platforms they rely on to reach women with information that could vastly improve their sexual health and wellbeing.

“People know that I specialise in sex and relationships so they should feel comfortable going to my social media platforms knowing that they will get accurate advice… but I can’t post some of these things. It’s so ridiculous,” Douglas said.

A level of content moderation is good and necessary, explained Daly Barnett, a staff technologist at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, but at scale it “overly polices otherwise safe, consensual, healthy forms of expression.” That can include sex education.

London-based Gigi Engle, a sex educator, journalist and author described a situation where educators are trying to share comprehensive sex education but are met with a wall “because these platforms have lumped all sexuality in together so that sexuality content that’s educational is listed as soliciting or sex work.”

“I just got a TikTok plate removed again for using the word orgasm,” Engle shared, adding that on Twitter, content warnings are put on the majority of her tweets, which promote pleasure-based sex education and safer sex practices, and on Instagram she believes she’s shadowbanned, which restricts the reach of her content.

Almost all of her clients, she explained, find her via her “educational, healing and empowerment” page on Instagram, but censorship affects the number of women she’s able to reach. “It’s not a good business strategy just to have business solely coming from Instagram… it’s just not a safe bet,” she said.

In her experience, posts can be removed if they contain the words “sex, pussy or cock,” but it’s not consistent, she said, likening posting content to a game of dodgeball. On Chinese-owned TikTok, videos that contain the words vulva, orgasm or masturbation are problematic, said Engle, who believes “TikTok hates sex more than any other platform.”

Posts or accounts can be blocked or removed without warning and the user is typically met with an automated message, stating that community guidelines have been breached; and there’s little the content creators can do about it except submit an appeal.

“It’s also something we notice when doing paid social media campaigns, promoting sexual health services,” said Eliza Bell, media and communications coordinator of sexual health charity Brook, which offers clinical services and advice across the UK.

Using emojis – think the aubergine and the peach – and false spelling – such as changing ‘sex’ to ‘seggs’ – are ways of slipping through the social media morality net. But Brook avoids these methods, Bell said, because correct terms ensure content is accessible for all.

A woman should, for example, said Douglas, be able to type in “vaginismus,” a medical diagnosis, into social media and find helpful information. Without it, a woman could force herself into painful sex, which could cause injury, avoid smear tests, and impact their mental health, she said.

“It just serves as a message of ‘this is wrong’ which is what we’re trying to undo,” White said. “I’m almost being told my posts are wrong and not welcome and how…many years have we been receiving this message internally that female sexuality is wrong or needs to look like this or that?” she said. “It adds to suppressive ruling.”

This content was originally published here.

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