This woman tried to expose a sexual predator in the photography community, so Instagram deleted HER account
‘Community guidelines’ my ass…
by Katie Way
Jess Linnett used social media — Instagram in particular — as an outlet to express herself and deal with trauma. She posted her artwork on a regular basis and developed a following, and now boasts around 19,000 followers on her main account.
But when she tried to use her platform to out whisperings of a predator in the photography community, Instagram deactivated her account and told her that she was permanently banned.
"He was just a grimy, uncomfortable guy."
When Jess first got into modeling, she worked with a photographer, who we're not naming for legal reasons, whose behavior creeped her out. He sent her sexually suggestive messages and didn't offer her a release form for the images he shot during their time together, she said.
The hardest part about being the subject of your own art is looking at all the lumps and bumps and resisting the urge to make it disappear with the flick of a photoshop brush. I was super nervous about posting this photo because I’m really self conscious about my legs, but I’m learning to embrace all the parts of myself. Without alteration. (?: @cvatik)
So when a woman reached out to Jess and said she found nude photos of her on the photographer’s Tumblr and Patreon accounts, years after they were taken, she was understandably pissed. She reported the problem to both platforms, neither of which took any action against the photographer. Patreon didn't even respond to her complaint.
"This is information I feel like people need to know."
From there, Jess began to do some digging on the photographer in question and found that a lot of other women had similar creepy, uncomfortable experiences when working with him, and that he tended to work with women who were young and new to modeling — inexperienced enough to put up with his bullshit.
"There's clearly tons of women who've had horrible experiences with him," Jess said. "And now I was in a position where I was like hey, you know what, this guy's doing stuff that's morally incorrect and I feel like I have to speak up."
That was when she decided to say something about his antics and the sexual harassment he inflicted on women who unwittingly worked with him. So she posted accusations, from herself and the dozen or so women she spoke to, on her Instagram story.
"Around half an hour later, my account was deactivated."
Jess suddenly found herself banned without explanation. At first she tried to appeal her ban, but Instagram support said they couldn’t explain why she was banned — just that the measure was permanent.
This inspired Jess to write a second, impassioned email to the social media platform.
***update: my account has since been reissued. Thank you for all of your support*** An email sent to a Facebook employee today following a notice that the decision to deactivate my account is permanent and final. I’m at a complete loss and don’t know what to do next. There is only so far I can go if nobody is listening. My page was the safest space I’ve ever had. I will miss it terrible. Thank you all for supporting my art and my healing.
"Being a female artist isn't easy. Using Instagram as a platform hasn't been easy either," Jess said in the email before detailing men who had solicited and harassed her over the two years she'd been on the platform.
"I do not want to live in a world that prioritizes predators," she said. "I sincerely hope that you feel the same."
Jess says her account was reactivated a few hours after she sent the second email, but she didn't receive an explanation besides Instagram claiming it made a mistake.
"Instagram doesn't have my back the way I thought it did."
When Jess's account was reactivated, the accusatory material had been removed from her story.
Since her account was banned, Jess says she feels disillusioned with the platform — especially because there were no consequences for the man who she says is using the platform as his hunting ground.
After Jess was sexually assaulted, she turned to art to express herself. "Sharing it through social media became therapeutic in a way," she told babe. "It was really important to me, and it was very important to my healing process."
But after this incident with Instagram, she says she can't see the platform in the same light. "It's brought up a lot, this whole thing of feeling totally invalidated by a platform that's supposed to be uplifting artists," she says. "It's not a great feeling."
As a safety precaution, all models should check multiple references when booking shoots. Never assume anyone is safe, regardless of the quality of their work, their friend group, or their social media following.