How I Unwittingly Broke Instagram Community Guidelines


It’s been a while but I’m back!!  Last time I was here was my blog’s 4th birthday in February. I’m here to report that the recent shitty thing that happened to me on Instagram has awakened my urge to come back to my blog. Yay!!! So here I go telling you my tale of how I unwittingly broke Instagram community guidelines  and why I’d do it again in a heart beat.

My Instagram account is small. It’s slowly growing but the conversational engagement is high which is why I love to spend time there. The chats and friends I’ve made there far outweigh Instagram’s negative points. It’s why I continue to hang out there and why I put up with some of the unwanted and typically quite sleazy messages I get from men.

Messages from men on Instagram

They seem to confuse it with a dating app. Their success rates must be pretty low because their chat up lines are the cringiest ever.

There’s no conversational foreplay either like IRL

I also know that the amount of unwanted messages I receive is minimal in comparison to the women with large followers. One of which I’ve seen get off the scale harassment  is Gail @fiftysister.

I love Gail’s account. She is an inspiration to all midlife women. She created some highlights on her Instagram account where she calls out trolls and has a highlight dedicated to some of the unwanted messages she gets from men. Check it out here – Naming & Shaming. I often wonder if these men have wives, partners, mothers, daughters and what they would think of them.

Back to my story of what it seems I did

Two weekends ago I’d had a flurry of unwanted Instagram messages from men,  more than usual. Bizarrely, they do tend to come in fits and starts. Anyway, they were getting on my nerves so I decided to take a leaf out of Fifty Sister’s book.

I created this story …. but in mine I left his contact details in. My thoughts were he’ll be happy I was getting his deets out there.* As I pressed share a message popped up saying the story had been removed as I’d broken community guidelines. So it didn’t even get shared. No-one saw it.

*I’ve removed his details for the purpose of my blog post


I’ve got to admit I was really taken by surprise. So much so that I tried to share again and the same thing happened. I was really taken aback. Wondering if it was because I’d left his details in?

At more or less the same time I a message pinged up saying I wasn’t eligible to use the Brand Partnership Tool. I’d never asked to use it. I knew it was there but so far had never needed to use it.

What is the Instagram Brand Partnership Tool?

“The tools consist of a tag to help creators disclose when a post is the result of a partnership and insights to help businesses access the performance of their branded content campaigns. Ultimately, these tools bring transparency around Branded Content to the Instagram community.” source Instagram for Business.

Like I said,  I’d never asked to use the tool.  My blog and associated social media channels are a hobby for me. Any paid work I’ve been involved in hasn’t warranted the use of this tool. Imagine if it did though at any time in the future? I took it as a punishment for what appeared to me breaking community guidelines.

I have sent three report requests in so far asking for an explanation. I honestly do not feel the punishment fits the ‘crime’. The first two requests just came back with “I’m ineligible. Please see our community guidelines.” or words to that affect.

The third is still sitting there currently 7 days with no reply.  You can see on the screenshot the ability to request a review is shadowed out.




To be honest I don’t expect a reply. Surely, these are bots and I’m somehow caught up in an AI net. I don’t really care.

What it did do though, is remind  me of the old saying ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’. I see so many creators and businesses solely relying on Instagram and/or Facebook and this has always been how easily the rug can be pulled from under your feet. Throughout my 17 year career in digital marketing and consultancy I’ve seen this happen to so many people. The faceless apps not having a care in the world about us really.

The last thing I did after again thinking was it because I left his details in the story, was check Fifty Sister’s Naming & Shaming highlights again and yes there were plenty of stories where she’s left contact information in. Gail usually tags the men too and gives them as much back in her story. Other women have messaged me and said they’ve named and shamed men in the same way. Maybe, Gail has been ‘punished’ in some way for doing this. I’m going to ask her.

Maybe, like I said it was a badly timed ‘for me’ glitch. Even worse then if I earned from Instagram and no real person to get an answer back from. Just stuck in that review net suspended in time.

Then as my mind raced I got mad.

I started thinking, so it’s ok for these guys to send us creepy DMs. This one was tame by the way. The stuff women get my husband can’t believe when I show and tell him what women on Instagram have shared with me or I’ve seen for myself. My boys who are 27 and 24 can believe it.

“Mum, you wouldn’t believe what goes on.” Here goes another generation of acceptance.

I’m 58 years old and I’ve had to grow older with this sort of activity from men. It’s been normalised both in real life and now more and more and much, much worse in the unprotected world of social media.

I’m just mad as hell on behalf of all women but especially  our young women and girls. But of course, for our boys, too.

I started to delve deeper into why this type of behaviour  exists. Why it STILL exists but seems worse because we’re all so accessible now. A minute or two searching on the internet brought up some harrowing articles:

Via Education Executive

Sexual harassment normalised among children, warns Ofsted

Via Daily Mail { I know. Don’t judge me but a worthwhile article re-shared }

Porn helps breed real misogyny

Two things I’d like to end with by saying openly and aloud to Instagram about me unwittingly breaking their community guidelines:

  1. Thankyou Instagram for driving me back to my blog you dip shit. Like a bad break up I never realised what a crap relationship I was really having with you spending waaaayyy too much time on you and ignoring my best friend blog for so long.
  2. If sharing my story broke your guidelines then I’m sorry not sorry. I’d to it again in a heart beat if it means I cam highlight in some small way what we all still accept as normal when it’s actually harassment. Don’t see you doing anything anytime soon about that do we Insta?



And for the record you know when they say don’t say anything on social media you wouldn’t say in real life?  Can you imagine that these men would say and do these things in real life?  I bet the percentage is diminished if there was a data survey of some sort to refer to.

I, on the other hand would say and do all of what I’ve said in this post and more to anyone who tried any of this on with me in the real world or to any woman I know. I don’t think they would though, do you? In my 58 years, despite experiencing sexual harassment I’ve never  had it at as crudely and explicitly  in real life as I get it  on social media also known as “Sliding Into Your DM’s”

What about you? Do you agree with how I attempted to call out this unwanted activity? I’d love to know your thoughts and your experiences.

Sharon xo




  1. Samantha
    / 4:41 pm

    Hi Sharon, interesting post. I’m not on Instagram so have no idea how it works, but slightly shocked by all the contact that women with, I presume, public accounts are receiving. I like blogs – I like to read and I like to read things that suggest I may have the attention span of something longer than a gnat! Keep on bloggin’. 🙂

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      / 9:03 am

      Well I’m really glad you have a better attention span than a gnat, Samantha if it means you’ll enjoy my blog!! 😆

      My sleazy DMs are so tame compared to some I can tell you. It’s definitely a love hate relationship staying on the platform and mostly spurred by the fact that I’ve met some lovely women from it xo

  2. Emma
    / 5:45 pm

    Hi Sharon, Instagram have it so wrong. How it should be is,these individuals get named and shamed then barred from Insta, FB, Twitter, Snapchat for 1 month. 2 strikes then banned for life! It may make them think twice.I know that another account can be set up but surely it can be traced back to the device and if it’s the same one used then they should be unable to make another account. Hope that makes sense. There are probably so many loopholes in my simplistic idea but would be nice if insta were even trying to stop this harassment which seems they are not. On the flip side I’m glad you have returned to your blog ❤

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      / 9:00 am

      What a great flip side to have given myself, Emma?

      You wonder don’t you why things seem to difficult and why can’t they embrace simple solutions? xo

  3. / 10:43 pm

    Instagram is notoriously bad for not responding to users who’ve been hacked so this doesn’t surprise me. Every time I see someone with a big Instagram following make a dig about how nobody reads blogs anymore I just think about the horror stories I’ve read. I can’t help wondering if they’d still put all their eggs in one basket if they were penalised for something innocuous – the same goes for Tiktok. I’m not willing to take that chance. As for the creepy men, luckily I haven’t had too many message me, I tend to get lurkers who follow then unfollow. There should definitely be some way to report harassment though, it’s all so tiresome. Great post Sharon.

    Emma xxx

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      / 8:58 am

      It’s a strange old world isn’t it, Emma and none more so than the one that exists in social media?

      Thankyou for taking the time to read and comment … means a lot to get my blog back firing on all cylinders xo

  4. / 11:09 am

    I think you did the right thing Sharon. Instagram is very friendly when you want to join and especially if you want to spend money on their platform, but they are completely inaccessible when there is an issue. What these men/bots are doing is like when I used to be out clubbing and get my bum groped all the flippin’ time. I NEVER asked for it, and then you’d get abuse if you turned around and called them out on it – like you were the crazy one. It’s unacceptable. And it’s an action (either physically, verbally or visually in the case of DM’s) that they can’t take back – it’s too late, it’s happened – they took the choice away from us. I get messages a lot on DM, thankfully, they’ve just been hello, or hi pretty lady at worst so far. Daily I’m removing what I believe to be bot followers and blocking others. A few weeks ago, I had a man DM me and then somehow contact me on Whatsapp too (despite my number not being public!!!) My blog has always been my baby and IG is secondary to it. I do enjoy the platform more now I’ve found my ‘happy place’ within it, but I do cringe when I see DM requests. Hope it all gets resolved for you soon Sharon xx

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      / 12:29 pm

      You’re spot on with the nightclub analogy, Alex.

      TBH I don’t expect it to get resolved. That ticket looks like it’s just sitting in some sort of ticket purgatory now.

      If any brand ever asks me to use the partnership tool I’ll tell them honestly why I can’t. If they are behind us collectively on calling this out then we’ll figure it out. If not then they won’t be a brand I’d want to align with is my view point.

      Thanks for taking the time to discuss xo

  5. / 1:09 pm

    I get messages too usually Hello beautiful.😂.I block immediately. And never respond. But maybe I should call them out. There are so many creeps around many of them in the military for some reason. Great post Sharon x

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      / 4:38 pm

      Yes I’ve blocked/deleted all this time too, Hilda but for some reason that Sunday I’d just had enough.

      Some of the hard core ones I know my young friends get is abysmal. They rarely blink an eye or even talk about it as just so normalised and for that reason it will never go away 🙁 xo

  6. Michelle Springer
    / 2:28 pm

    It’s all over Facebook as well- you get men wanting you to friend them or join in some kind of scheme. I think the fact that they feel anonymous because of the computer makes them bolder and creepier.
    And we all know now that it’s not just men harassing women- we all know what happened this past weekend after the game. That was absolutely disgusting but, unfortunately, not surprising.
    I think the social media companies do need to step up their policing of creeps, but we still, as a society, need to make sure that we change behaviors before they start or, like you, call them out as we see them.
    Maybe then the social media companies will actually listen for a change if enough people do it.
    Ok…. stepping off my soapbox now. Love you Sharon! ❤

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      / 4:35 pm

      Strangely I never get it on Facebook, Michelle.

      We live in dark times where it seems people can ‘hide’ in plain sight on the web more than ever.

      Keep stepping up on your soap box, my love .. we have to!! xo

  7. Meg
    / 9:56 am

    Anyone using a dating app will tell you this is so common. I’ve given up looking to meet someone. My ex MIL is 72. She’d like to meet someone for company. She has been sent the vilest images and requests on line and she used a paid for service.

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      / 10:32 am

      I was going to say but that’s a dating app you’re talking about not Instagram but still not excusable is it?

      It feels like the minute you put yourself out there in ANY domain means we’re open to the suggestion of sex 🤷🏼‍♀️

  8. / 9:12 pm

    Great Post! This is so common in the US I did not know it was worldwide. I have a very small group of followers because I block all the suspects. I’m still blogging and reading blogs because it is the mental therapy that I can afford. Kudos!

    • Sharon Sinclair.Williams
      / 7:58 pm

      Thanks, Neti! I really do LOVE blogs too. Instagram is love/hate and so much pretence. I know we all only show what we want to show online but Insta really grinds my gears sometimes! xo

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