Instagram Strips Aussie 'Naked Farmer' Account With No Warning
Instagram has apologised for an ‘error’ which saw a viral page that features photos of naked Australian farmers shut down for more than a week, with no answers as to why.
Victorian farmer Ben Brooksby started 'The Naked Farmer' in 2017, with the hope it would spark conversations about the plight of farmers and their mental health.
What started as a cheeky Instagram post soon turned into a powerful mental health awareness driven community, as carefully crafted photos of farmers with their kits off rolled in from across the world.
In two years, the farmers' Instagram account attracted about 99,400 followers and many more views.
But in early October, Brooksby said he tried to view the popular page and couldn't log in.
"I deleted the app on my phone, reinstalled it and even used a mate's phone to check if the account was still up. But it had disappeared," the St Helens Plains-based farmer told 10 daily.
Brooksby said he had contacted Instagram twice for answers in the days after the account was shut down, but he claims he heard nothing back.
He suspected the account's apparent use of nudity was to blame.
According to Instagram's community guidelines, the platform does not allow nudity in photos, videos and some digitally-created content that shows sexual intercourse, genitals and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks - but the farmers' aren't entirely naked in their photos.
"It is a bit strange ... when you actually look at the photos, they're not entirely naked. They're beautiful photos of farmers around the country and the world," Brooksby told 10 daily before the account returned to the social media platform.
"Instagram is used all around the world, and we're mindful of other cultures," he said, adding the group contemplated switching their page to private at one point.
"Just having an answer back would have been the best outcome," he said, claiming the social media giant never responded to his queries while the account was shut down.
Brooksby said he was concerned that Instagram could destroy a community "at the push of a button".
He said the group was forced to set up a new Instagram account and start rebuilding their followers after hearing nothing from the social media giant.
The Farmers' second page attracted 1300 followers within a day.
But when 10 daily contacted Instagram on Monday, a spokesperson said the original account had been reinstated as it was shut down in 'error'.
"We apologise for the mistake," the spokesperson said.
"It's crazy. I've been trying and getting in contact with them all week and as soon as the media gets involved, it's a whole new story," Brooksby said in response to learning the Farmers' account was back up and running.
'Doing it For Good Mental Health'
For Brooksby, the motivation to help farmers preserve good mental health is a deeply personal one.
"Growing up, I struggled with anxiety," he said.
"I'd never leave my parents' side. I couldn't even shower or take a bath until I was about 10."
He vividly remembers having several panic attacks while driving with his mates one day, "shaking and sweating".
"I got to the end of my driveway and it started again ... I ran to my dad, screaming out for him. I thought I was having a heart attack," he said.
Years later, during the Millennial drought, Brooksby said he hit rock bottom.
"About three years ago, we lost our family home to fire. Watching it burn to the ground, and seeing my grandmother wailing on the ground outside was so heartbreaking," he said.
"It wasn't until my dad and my grandfather gave me the task of rebuilding our home that I really learnt to control my anxiety.
"From something that was so negative, there was a huge positive and I'm so thankful."
Brooksby said Instagram briefly shutting down the farmers' account was just another lesson in resilience.
"In a way, that is mental health. Sometimes s*** happens, but we have to find positives in it, adapt and overcome," he said.
"(The Naked Farmer) It's a powerful community and I'm honoured to be part of it."
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If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.