A London fishmonger has spoken out against censorious “vegans,” after Instagram briefly marked his photos and videos of raw fish as “sensitive content that many may find as offensive or disturbing.”
Rex Goldsmith, who runs The Chelsea Fishmonger on Cale Street in ... Chelsea ... told the Telegraph that he doesn’t “know whether the post has been reported by vegans or whether Instagram censored it as they thought it would be offensive to vegans.” It’s more likely that he is the victim of an over-enthusiastic algorithm than a vegan with an axe to grind, but Instagram has since reversed the censorship, with a spokesperson saying: “This content was marked as sensitive in error and has now been reinstated. We apologise for the mistake.” Acclaimed London chef Richard Corrigan had another take: “I am disturbed by vegans.” Good talk.
The fishmonger is not the first London establishment to be censored on Instagram. London’s favourite fresh pasta restaurant, Padella, posted an image of a dead grouse on the platform in September last year, which remains censored. That image, however, drew direct criticism from the restaurant’s vegan and vegetarian followers, who considered posting such an image to be a betrayal of those who wish to visit, but do not wish to consume meat. Goldsmith, whose business deals squarely in fish, is unlikely to have vegans arriving and expecting to be catered for. Defenders of Padella, meanwhile, pointed out the obvious: Padella is not a vegetarian restaurant.
Food writer Olia Hercules also had an image of raw meat censored by Instagram earlier this year, and posted it to Twitter instead, where it was not censored, commenting that those who report such images are “so detached from reality.”
My photo of @pipersfarm pig’s ears and trotters was censored by @instagram I guess someone complained. Why the monkey don’t they report pictures of burgers, sausages and bacon too? Ridiculous. And shame on you @instagram for censoring it. People are so detached from reality. pic.twitter.com/7UYeUexAZ4— Olia Hercules (@Olia_Hercules) March 6, 2019
It’s hard to argue that reporting images of raw fish, animals, or game birds shows a wilful disconnect from the realities of food production, especially if the person(s) complaining also eat meat. Resorting to assumptions around vegans, however, is no less reductive: social media platforms must adapt to how chefs, restaurants, and suppliers use their products for promotion and education, and not prevent either in service of what they, or their algorithms, consider to be ethically right.