Sex toy e-boutique and sex education source WildFlowerSex.com lost their 67k+ Instagram account last Thursday in the site’s recent crackdown on content deemed inappropriate by the social media giant, and now they’re rallying the pleasure industry to call out unfair Terms of Service agreements that target sex education and body positivity.
After a panicky, disgruntled response from fans, pleasure businesses, and sex educators, Instagram re-instated Wild Flower’s account only a day later. However, the company seized the opportunity to make a statement about the recent changes to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram that label sex education as porn.
WildFlowerSex.com was created in July of 2017 as a safe space where people of all sexual identities and lifestyles can buy gender-neutral sex toys, kink gear, and pleasure accessories.
Nick and Amy Boyajian, co-founders of Wild Flower, found their corresponding and wildly popular Instagram account, @WildflowerSex, locked and deleted without warning from the social media platform on Thursday, January 10th.
“[Instagram] didn’t tell us how we had violated [the terms], only that we had and we were banned,” says COO Nick Boyajian. “Within the hour, we were contacted by countless friends and other people in the pleasure industry voicing their concern and asking where our account had gone and how they could help us get it back. We still haven’t been able to get any real answers about why our account was deactivated. ”
Wild Flower’s account had amassed well over 67,000 followers to the company’s feed of inclusive, sex-positive posts that aimed to create a comfortable conversation around sexual health and pleasure. Many marginalized persons, such as transgender teens and women recovering from abuse and trauma, found great comfort and acceptance in Wild Flower’s non-judgmental social media community.
“Finding our account disabled made our hearts sink into our stomachs,” says CEO Amy Boyajian. “We have poured so much energy and love into creating the educational content for the Instagram and our website, and to see it just disappear without any warning or reason was devastating.”
Though the business often showcased partial and artistic nudity in their photo posts to bust media stereotypes on body image, none of Wild Flower’s images actually violated Instagram’s ban on pornographic material, which prohibits obviously explicit content like full-frontal nudity.
“To be completely honest, we kind of had a feeling this was coming,” says Boyajian. “Instagram has noticeably cracked down on many accounts that it has deemed to be too ’sexually suggestive’. Wild Flower’s entire mission is to promote healthy sexual pleasure. Is that a violation of their terms? We didn’t think so, and neither do the hundreds of people who have contacted us and posted about us in the past 24 hours [following the deletion], but maybe Instagram disagrees?”
After an outpouring of support from the company’s followers, Wild Flower’s account was re-activated in less than 48 hours – and to a growing audience of now almost 73k followers – though the situation highlights the serious damage businesses can incur from losing today’s most valuable marketing tool – social media.
“Although we’d love to believe that our store could continue to grow rapidly without our Instagram account, the truth is that this could be a fatal blow to our business. From the start Instagram has been one of our main methods of communicating with our customers and the community,” says Boyajian. “Instagram and Facebook have never been willing to let us buy paid advertising on their platform due to the nature of our products, but new people have consistently been able to find us thanks to the amazing community of supporters we’ve been so lucky to grow sharing our account.”
“Having our account deactivated altogether in a permanent fashion would have impacted us in a much greater way,” she continues. “Would we still have been able to run our store? Yes. Would we be at a significant disadvantage? Absolutely. One of the first rules of business is to be where your customers are, and our customers are (unfortunately) on Instagram.”
In the wake of Instagram’s apparent sex-ed witch hunt, companies like Wild Flower have called out social media companies for unfairly flagging and removing accounts related to the LGBTQ+ community, women’s issues, and comprehensive sex education that seeks to demystify basic concepts like pleasure and anatomy, all of which public school systems have failed to accurately address.
“All we can really do is try to get Instagram’s attention and hope someone there can see this situation for what it really is,” concludes Boyajian. “Our Instagram account is so much more to us than just an advertising tool for our online store, and it was huge for us to get it back.”