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Home » Instagram, News

Is Instagram censoring the iPhoneography hashtag?

Submitted by on September 6, 2012 – 1:11 pm 27 Comments

instagram censoring iphoneography hashtag

Using the #iphoneography hashtag is wasting keystrokes on Instagram. Here’s why.

Instagram hashtags are a great way to label your image to make it easier for others with similar interests to find your photos. If you’re like many iPhone users on Instagram, you tag your photos with #iphoneography hashtag to help identify the style of photography.

It seems that lately using the #iphoneography hashtag on Instagram is a waste of time and typing. Although Instagram will let you type #iphonoegraphy as a hashtag, it returns zero results when doing a hashtag search using the term. Basically, Instagram may be censoring the #iphoneography hashtag.  >>>

WARNING: This post contains search terms that may be slightly NSFW.

I have no problems using the #iPhoneography hashtag on my images. However, Instagram doesn’t alert me that it’s incorrect, unusable or that it will be excluded from search.

Doing a hashtag search for the term, either in Instagram’s Explore tab or on Statigram returns zero results. Performing a hashtag search of #iphonography, minus the “e” and also Instagram’s preferred style of referencing iPhone photography, returns over 2.7 million results.

The #iphoneography hashtag results are not redirected. The tags are simply going nowhere. Is this a licensing issue, premptive trademark prevention or simply a not-so-subtle way of Instagram enforcing its preferred spelling of the word?

Instagram has not net replied to my email asking about this matter.

Instagram censors other tags as well, including many that violate its terms of service. In light of recent news stories about the spread of Teen P*rn throughout the service. A hashtag search of phrases like “boobs”, “porn” and others also come up empty, so Instagram definitely censors hashtags. Surprisingly, other hashtags like “nsfw”, “ana”, and “boob” return thousands of tagged images, many of them graphic.

If it’s a case of potential trademark infringement, here’s a list of other heavily protected trademarked terms I did an Instagram search for today:

#dallascowboys    39,910 photos
#nfl        168,869 photos
#mlb        99,877 photos
#oscars        13,608 photos (The Academy aggressively protects its trademarks)
#android    926,934 photos
#androidography    122,905 photos
#droidography    10,155 photos

#apple    1,135,799 photos
#mac    767,149 photos
#iphone        No tags found
#iphoneography        No tags found
#iphonography        2,732,852 images found

According to Wikipedia, “iPhoneography” is the correct spelling. Searching for “iPhonography” doesn’t even redirect. Either Instagram has put its clout behind a misspelled word or its using its reach and influence to try and change the community. While it seems I’m splitting hairs, I recently wrote about the importance of the consistency of the the iPhoneography brand. Instagram now has a rapidly growing base of over 80 million users. This is a significant and influential omission.

Instagram user Rick Cortes says, “I noticed this months ago. A little annoying. And the Instagram community has adapted by misspelling the word.”

Is this a case of Instagram censoring the hashtag “#iphoneography” in favor of its own implementation of the word? The question isn’t whether they’re doing it. The question is why.

=M=

~~~~

Big thanks to Stacy Anderson, Rick Cortes, and reader Oniontears for their help in getting this post written. =M=

Marty Yawnick

Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.

  • Miki

    Marty,

    I posted a tweet to an article not long ago discussing the wide spread use of porn hashtags on Instagram. If you search for "instapussy" or "instacock" it is very disturbing. Thousands of photos and the comments are all people looking to hook up. It's basically like the web porn sites have migrated to Instagram. I even tweet Instagram about it but got no response.

    I am very concerned about this trend. How can IG censor iPhoneography tag but not porn tags? They don't want to offend Android users? Or lose a customer base of people looking to access naked photos? I have given up reporting photos when I spot nudity, or underage kids, or offensive comments. They never seem to get looked at.

  • http://plus.mikuli.com Miku

    Have checked if the tag gets passed to other services through Instagram?

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      It doesn't. I did a Statigram search. No results.

      =M=

  • http://twitter.com/oniontears @oniontears

    Thanks for posting this. Really there should be no problem using the hashtag, as before. Be interesting to hear the reasoning behind it. Seems like they are disrespecting the community that built it.

  • http://twitter.com/kentkangley @kentkangley

    It's posts like this that make me glad I got rid of Instagram months ago.

  • flatlined

    This is some serious bullshit on IG's part. Might as well ditch IG and post photos directly to Tumblr. At least Tumblr isn't owned by Zuckerberg,

    • Oniontears

      I know that the hashtag stopped working right at the time when the Android app came out, well before FB purchase…

  • megwolf

    I would guess it's more a matter of being too generic than favoritism. '#Photography' and '#Instagram' also return no results, for example. Perhaps the alternate spelling sneaks through BECAUSE it's less popular?

    • http://lifeinlofi.com lifeinlofiblog

      That was my first thought, and what I would have concluded had a search for "iphonography" without the "e" not turned up millions of images.

      • megwolf

        Hmm, you're right, still some odd decision-making going on either way. Will be interested to see if you find out anything further.

      • keepsy

        Mine too. I've seen cases in the past where an extremely popular term disappears from their search index. But its very spotty and inconsistent. (e.g. #iphonesia pull 23M results). Having interacted with the team a few times, I venture that they are so busy scaling the service that they simply don't have time to hatch sinister spelling plots. More likely they shut down the term in their index for performance reasons because it was too expensive a query for their system.

        I'm not certain people realize the incredible feat this small team has pulled off in scaling so quickly to meet demand. Compared to a service like Twitter that was beset by constant outages for years after launch, IG is rock solid. This is because they spend so much effort of scaling and performance.

  • http://flickr.com/maxsiphotos Max Berkowitz

    I too noticed this a while back and decided to go through and add the #iphonography (-e) so as to allow my work/images to be searchable.

    Someone clearly made a decision to negate the tag #iphoneography and I can’t figure out why.

  • Bart

    Another heavily-protected trademark is "Olympics", yet there's a ton of related hashtags on Instagram.

  • mragan

    This is all very annoying, and I thank you for alerting me to it. But what is MOST annoying is that the people who run IG don't even care enough to answer your e-mails, answering your questions about "why".

  • Gaston Graf

    Marty, obviously some lame brain set this up because if you type "iphoneographie" instead of "iphoneography" Instagram comes up with 26228 photos. So I believe it's rather a mistake than an intended blocking. Or they are even too dumb to realize that the ending "y" in other languages often becomes "ie", like it is the case in French and German.
    Send them back to school!

  • http://twitter.com/MassimoFarina @MassimoFarina

    Hi folks, as co-founder of http://staticpixels.com I've had a lot of exposure to the Instagram API. Allow me to share a discussion thread that should shed some light on this issue.

    In this thread you'll find a comment from Mike Krieger, co-founder of Instagram stating:

    "We've stopped serving feeds (both in app and API) for some tags that were too generic and didn't provide enough end-user value; "iPhone" is one of them" https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!top

    I'm guessing that #iphoneography has now been added to this list of omitted tags.

    Hope this helps.
    Massimo

  • http://tatumweb.com/blog/ Rich Tatum

    I noticed this about a month ago, it seems like, and I searched everywhere for an answer, to no avail.

    It just seemed to suddenly stop working, but I confess, I only noticed it because I was using InstaGallery, and the function that displays the hashtags attached to a photo clearly shows which tags work, and which don’t. I posted a notice about it in my gallery:

    http://instagr.am/p/OmHkXNSzWY/

    Note, also, that “#iPhone” “#photography” also returned zero results.

    I wound up having to modify my default set of base tags because this and a couple other tags also were no longer available. It made no sense to me except, I reasoned, if spammers were taking advantage of the “iphoneography” spelling. I did note that the alternate spelling worked, but I didn’t want to use that.

    I emailed IG, asked a question via Twitter, and posted a note via their customer service portal. No answer in any case. :(

    Rich
    BlogRodent

  • Val

    Even the hashtag #Instagram isn’t working anymore. Wtf?!?!

  • http://fotosyn.com James Moore

    I’ve noticed of late that a tag I use #bleachbypass in relation to pics made using my app Bleach Bypass no longer yields any results (last few days)

    New filter perhaps from IG?

  • Alice

    I've noticed more and more hashtags are being censored. Most recently my beloved #teatime tag (where users share images of how they drink tea) now returns no results which is even more strange because I discovered that tag through the official instagram twitter account a while ago.

    I suspect that there might be some kind of algorithm at use? I can't think of any other reason to make it more difficult to search for images of people's tea cups and pots. If #teapot is next to go I'll be very sad.

  • mike

    they just recently censored #sunset also

  • Sophia

    #boob doesn’t work either, plus dick doesn’t work… but dic does. And the most upsetting is #nipples or #nipple doesn’t work anymore.

  • Instatrouble

    #shirtless doesn't work either. I know, douchbag, but well… It doesn't work

  • brokendreamz

    All hashtags are not working ! Including popular hastags . I tested them . As of today december 25 no hastags work . They will dissapear and not show up at all !

  • instaproblem

    Everytime i upload a photo and put a caption my caption disappears. Even when i put hashtags. please help!

  • Jeffrey

    Your headline is misleading… You don’t explain why ;-)

    I was just glad I wasn’t the only one with this problem.

  • alex

    The #photography hashtag doesn’t work either