Artists Guide to Important Terms of Use on Social Media: How to Avoid being Banned or Disabled

Social media more than ever has become a crucial platform for artists. It is easy to fall foul of the guidelines and be banned without legal recourse. VAA has been contacted by artists who have unwittingly fallen foul of the guidelines and lost their entire accounts on Instagram and Facebook. Whilst there is an appeals process, it is very rare to get a ban overturned. Legally social media channels own the data and control their platforms. Imagine building your arts business and loosing everything? It can easily be avoided, so read on.

To have your social media accounts banned or disabled can threaten your presence as an artist. In this article you will be given a compact guide to the policies of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Follow the advice below and enjoy a stress-free social media experience.

The Obvious Rules

There are some fairly obvious rules on social media that you probably don’t need reminding of. Imagine social media like your local city centre: if you wouldn’t do it in your city centre, don’t do it online. Therefore, if you use your platform to encourage or take part in illegal activities, you will get your account banned. Also, no threats, hate speech or harassment of other users.

Nudity and Sensitive Content

Both Facebook and Instagram restrict images of nudity, yes, this includes professional photography. However, both platforms allow presentations of nudity in sculptures and paintings. Say you do dabble in some nude photography and still want to post it, many artists censor their images in tasteful ways. Photographer Ed Freeman, for example, draws a tiny squiggle over the nipples and genitals of his subjects. If you use Instagram, business accounts also allow you to set your own age restriction for content.

If you are posting images of the female breast there are a few exceptions to censorship. If the intended purpose is a form of protest, raising awareness, or for educational purposes, this is fine. Remember that any images with a lot of skin may still be flagged by Facebook and Instagram, so be prepared.

Twitter, on the other hand, is fine with nudity! Just make sure to label any content as sensitive.

Social media platforms try to restrict sensitive content. If you use your art to delve into potentially sensitive topics, make sure you add a trigger warning in the caption. In doing so, you stick to most platforms’ policies and you can protect your fans. As Instagram’s business account allows you to set a minimum age for followers, this might be worth doing if your art includes nudity or sensitive content.

The Professional Policies

When using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for your career you need to act professional. Social media should be acting as your friendly online gallery. Most social media platforms offer guidelines on how to keep your integrity and act professional. Ignoring these rules could result in your account being suspended or disabled.

As an artist you will realise the importance of authentic content. Posting anything that has been copied or collected from the internet can jeopardize your account, especially if such content is copyrighted.

Facebook provides artists, creators, and sellers with a business model, called a ‘Page’. This is different to a personal profile or a Facebook Group. A page must be set up by an official representative of the business. The name must not have the words ‘Facebook’, ‘Official’ or ‘Fan’. You must also refrain from using special characters and especially do not use copyright symbols.

Instagram allows you to have either a personal account, creator account, or business account. If you are a business, Facebook and Instagram want you to use the business models.

If you use a personal account for business or to get in touch with more potential buyers, you will get your account disabled. Social media aims to keep its’ casual users free from spam, the business models are there to protect its users. This is why using a personal account for business violates the terms of service. This is also why you cannot privately message a fan unless they initiate contact first.

All these rules may seem a little vague and overwhelming, so let’s break it down:

– If you are planning to sell your art using social media, you need a business account

– If you just want to share a drawing you will never sell or use to gain commissions, posting on your personal account is fine

– Using your personal account to contact friends is fine. Stick to your business account when interacting with fans.

Here’s where it might get tricky, say, you have a business account, but you have more followers/friends on your personal account, so you want to share your business on your personal page. If you do this every now and again, it shouldn’t cause a suspension, just try not to make a habit of it. On Instagram a good safety measure would be to change your personal account to a ‘creator’ account, this way you can continue to promote your business account while following the terms of service.

Using personal accounts for business is a big no-no on social media, it is often tagged as spam. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have many guidelines in place to prevent spam. Basically, if you are following/unfollowing, posting and liking posts hundreds of times an hour, social media algorithms may shadowban or suspend your account.

Be wary of using illegitimate apps or services to build your social media empire. Using third-person-posting apps, buying followers, or using apps which record who has unfollowed you, could get your account suspended or disabled. If you do use such apps, make sure they are certified by the platform you are using them on.

Social Media Etiquette

Now, if you don’t follow the etiquette of social media you won’t get your account banned, but you might see a drop in engagement.

Social media isn’t an online notice board, it’s a social platform. Reply to every message and comment. Make your fans realise how important they are to you! Post content often. It is completely up to you how personal you make your professional accounts, just make sure you are constantly engaging with potential buyers and other artists.