What’s Not Allowed On Social Media? Duck Dynasty, Breastfeeding, and Blood

Photo courtesy of Jason Howie via Flickr, modified by Curiousmatic. 

In the world of social media, it’s easy to get buried in streams of hashtags and conversations. It’s no surprise that measures are taken online to block inappropriate usage of these otherwise very open platforms.

We’ve taken a look at the most popular social media websites and their block policies – some of them may surprise you.


How much damage can 140 characters do, really? As it turns out, a lot. Twitter is used for cyber bullying all too often – one study finds over 100,000 bully-related tweets sent per week.

Twitter’s block policies allow users to prevent others from following or interacting with their tweets. In December of 2013, Twitter changed this policy so that blocked users could view and tweet blockers, though their activity would remain invisible, Reuters reports.

The negative response was so strong, prompting a petition and lots of anger, that Twitter quickly rescinded it.

Further, Twitter is able to withhold tweets from view by certain countries, in order to comply with government censorship. Even Twitter wasn’t a fan of this controversial measure – so they readily provide tips for activists (and others) to get around it.


There are many hashtags blocked by Instagram to render harmful and criminal posts unsearchable – or perhaps more accurately, hide the stupidity of those using them.

Some blocked tags make sense – for example, pro-anorexia, sexually explicit or racist tags (#thinspo, #whitepower, #sex) and more recently drug-related tags that depict or advertise illegal dealing/usage activities.

Others make less sense, such as:

Photo: Dave Nelson via Flickr
Photo: Hotel Arthur via Flickr.
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Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Photo: Wikipedia.

You can see a fuller list, compiled by The Data Pack here.


Facebook is known for policing what users can and can’t post, as is made clear by their leaked censorship guidelines, available on Gawker. The site received much criticism for blocking content deemed sexual – such as exposed nipples of a breastfeeding mother – while allowing explicit gore, like crushed heads.

Though site’s policies on breastfeeding photos have since changed, their October 2013 policy change allowing videos of beheadings has created more controversy, according to the Guardian.

Facebook has also been criticized for failing to censor pages promoting violence against women, and putting blocks on political protest profiles.


While the social blogging Tumblr, recently acquired by Yahoo, has in the past been known for community freedom and openness to sexual content, recent policies have blocked NSFW tags and blogs labeled “Adult” from popular search by mobile.

Tags removed from mobile dash search include:

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Photo: darcyadelaide via Flickr
Photo: Guillaume Paumier via Flickr
Photo: UrbanWomanMag via Flickr

Do you know any other banned hashtags, or notable social media block policies? Tweet us @curiousmatic.

Jennifer Markert