It appears at some point after I wrote this article back in 2012 Instagram has changed their censorship policy. I've been told due to the problems with different languages they aren't doing this sort of automated word based censoring any longer. However if you do have stumbled upon blocked hashtags on Instagram, do let me know in the comments section.
In late September Instagram did a dirty trick of censoring non-offensive and popular hashtags. The censorship didn't last very long, as the huge mistake was noticed: Hashtags that got censored included such "offensive" words as grass, cassette, glass and even classroom. This was based on the fact that said words included the word ass as part of them.
Since the mistake was fixed things got back to normal. Or not.
Recently I was struggling to get a photo to show on certain tag pools. I added a bunch of appropriate tags to the photo, but it didn't seem to show up anywhere. Until I realized what was wrong.
One of the tags I used was wet. Apparently the Instagram folks have muddy minds since the only wet they can think about has to do with (I'm guessing here) female genitalia. My photo didn't include any anatomy, it was a photo of a reflection on a wet street. And because I had included this very offensive tag to the list of hashtags, none of them worked.
The hashtag censoring is one of Instagram's answers to their spam and other misuse problems. Like any other Internet based service that allows it's users to create content, it's also being flooded with unsolicited advertisement, porn and other material deemed offensive.
Instagram has reportedly started to disable accounts that have used any urls on their comments. For instance if you mention your own website or Facebook page (which is rather funny considering that IG is now FB owned) on your captions or comments, you may get blocked from using Instagram for good.
Unfortunately none of their silly methods help. Each time an automated of semi-automated way to clean Instagram from offensive and spammy material, the trolls come up with other means to harass everyone else.
They don't add urls to their comments anymore, but mention an account, which then has the link to the sites they are trying to get us check. They don't use the censored hashtags, but all the other, popular ones.
The hashtag censoring is a problematic approach to any trolling problems in general. It becomes a freedom of speech issue.
It only makes things difficult for the regular users. My example proves that at least some of the words Instagram has marked as offensive can be used in a quite non-offensive ways too. On the other hand all the different languages make the whole hashtag censoring even more futile and in some cases more stupid.
It may be true that most people don't think your cat was caught by the rain, when you talk about your wet pussy. Or an hairy ass may not draw a picture of a donkey that needs shaving. However I never thought the word wet in any way offensive until I realized what the dirty minds behind the censorship are thinking. (Shame on you, Instagram boys and girls!)
To make the situation even more strange the censorship of Instagram seems pretty random. Wet and some of the words I mentioned above are apparently offensive. There are other tags that fall into the same category as previous, such as tight and deep, which aren't offensive.
If your name is Dick, don't use it as a hashtag, since it's censored too. Dong, on the other hand, is not blocked.
The funniest thing of them all is that erection or any of it's variants are NOT censored. You cannot be wet but you can have an erection? Big brother is being a sexist.
While Instagram keeps censoring random words, be very careful. If you happen to include one of those blocked hashtags, none of the non-blocked hashtags will work for your photo either.
I'm Mervi Emilia Eskelinen, an artist, and a multi-talent of web visibility and branding from Finland. I help indie businesses, freelancers and bloggers to stand out online. I have 18 years of experience and a formal education in everything about web design and development, branding and online marketing.