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Instagram Takes Down Picture of Child With a Disability Claiming It Did Not Meet Guidelines

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Charlie Beswick, author of “Our Altered Life,” started her Instagram account in February to show life with her twin boys in a real, honest and often amusing way. One of her twins, Harry, has a rare genetic condition called Goldenhar syndrome, which means he was born without an eye, eye socket, nostril or ear, and a short jaw. In August, Instagram removed an image of Harry pictured without his eye prosthesis. Beswick received a message saying the image had been reported and it did not meet Instagram’s community guidelines, therefore it had been removed — but there was no explanation as to what community guideline the image had breached.

Beswick followed the correct channels in contacting Instagram to find out why her photo had been removed. However, she never heard back.

On Tuesday, September 11, Beswick woke up to the same message from Instagram regarding a different picture she had posted on September 9. This time, she took to Twitter to see if she could get answers on a public forum.

Someone is reporting my son’s face & agree saying it doesn’t meet their guidelines before removing it. RT to support me in this!

On Twitter, she received overwhelming support from people demanding Instagram give an explanation. In an interview with The Mighty, Beswick said, “After about five hours, Instagram emailed me to say that the image had been removed in error and had now been restored. No explanation. No apology.”

Beswick said when she received the original removal notification, she was initially shocked, then offended, quickly followed by furious. “I accept that not everyone will want to see a picture of a child without his eye in (although there are far worse images all over social media),” she told The Mighty, “but the fact that they felt the need to report it and then Instagram agreed that it was offensive disgusted and enraged me. I appreciate that Instagram are a social media giant but with that comes a social responsibility to protect and support their users. They claim to not tolerate discrimination or abuse, and yet it felt that they were participating in that very activity in removing the image of a child’s face.”

Beswick said the original image on Instagram had over 200 comments of support from the community with over 2300 likes.

ouralteredlife Me ~ Hello Harry. Where’s your eye?
Mark ~ Oh damn!! It’s still on the side at home!
If it’s not one of us it’s the other!????????
(Note to the person who reported the last image of my son like this. It’s his FACE. If you’re offended then scroll past. Shame on you!)

Beswick said she shares pictures of her son because she loves him dearly. “He was born without an eye or eye socket and has had his skull taken apart and restructured twice amongst other operations to create what you see today,” she said. She is incredibly proud of him and grateful to the medical science that has helped him so far. “As a mother, it’s surely my right to ‘show him off’ and be proud of all he’s been through,” she said. Beswick also shares his pictures to combat the superficial world we live in where people are quick to judge:

Although Harry is a cute boy now, in time he will become a vulnerable adult and I wont always be here to protect him. I want people to see his face and almost become desensitized to the differences so that he can be accepted for the gorgeous person he is rather than instantly judged on the face he has.

Charlie with her twin boys

Ultimately, Beswick wants people to think before they judge:

Yes, the faces of people like Harry might take you by surprise, but if they just give people a chance they would see so much more than a face. Give me a unique face and a beautiful person over superficial looks and an ugly heart any day of the week!

Beswick is in the process of setting up a charity called “More Than A Face” so she can visit high schools and raise awareness.

You can follow Charlie and Harry on Instagram and Twitter.

Images provided by Charlie Beswick.

Originally published: October 5, 2017
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