Instagram suspended right-wing author and political commentator Brittany Pettibone three months ago for seemingly no reason. It turns out, she was barred from the platform for posting photos of her husband’s face.
Pettibone’s account was just like any normal twenty-something woman’s account, though perhaps a bit more enviable. There were beautiful photos from balls, charming pictures with her family and friends, whimsical wedding portraits and captivating images of her travels. Though there might have been some politics scattered in here and there, it was largely a personal look at her everyday life.
The problem, in Instagram’s eyes, is that last year Pettibone married right-wing Austrian political activist Martin Sellner.
Sellner focuses on non-violent protests over the dangers of European nations taking in migrants — and the nonprofit organizations that assist them. He has never been convicted of a crime nor advocated for violence, and yet, he was labeled a “dangerous person” and Instagram does not allow posts that “promote” any “dangerous” person or organization. Their label likely stems from Sellner’s home being raided twice in 2019 because he was one of many people who received a donation from the man who became the Christchurch mosque shooter.
Sellner maintains that he receives donations for his activism from people all over the world and that he had no knowledge of what was to come over a year later. His property was later returned and nothing was found that could implicate him.
The High Court of Austria ultimately deemed the raids on Sellner’s home to have been illegal.
Other “dangerous” people whose faces can’t be posted on Instagram or their parent company, Facebook, include Tommy Robinson and Paul Joseph Watson. Curiously, we have yet to hear of bans on Antifa imagery, or heck, even serial killers.
“Per instagram’s TOS, it appears that I am forbidden from posting photos that show the face of my husband, Martin Sellner—including non-political photos, such as from our wedding or at a Viennese Christmas market. Instagram categorizes these photos as promoting ‘dangerous people and organizations,’” Pettibone told the Gateway Pundit. “My husband has never advocated for violence against anyone. He has never been convicted of a crime either. He is a strict advocate of non-violent political protest. It’s utterly unprecedented and unjust for Instagram to label him a ‘dangerous person’, even going so far as to ban his name and face from their platform.”
In order to restore her account, Pettibone was forced to delete nearly 100 posts and story archives that showed her husband’s face, including the stunning portraits from their wedding.
Speaking to the Gateway Pundit, Sellner compared what Instagram is doing to him and others to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
“In Orwell’s 1984, there is a term ‘to vaporize’ a person,” Sellner began. “This is what’s happening today in the digital sphere to people like Tommy Robinson, Alex Jones and myself. Every photo of me, and even just sharing a video or news article with my name in the title, will get the post deleted on Facebook and Instagram.”
Sellner explained that even the logo for Generation Identity, a European patriotic youth movement that he is a member of, is recognized by the algorithms and immediately banned.
“Dozens of people, and even some patriotic newspapers, have lost their Facebook accounts for simply sharing videos about me or writing articles which included me. This leads to a situation where people even have to avoid posting my name, which effectively means that I don’t ‘exist’ anymore on important platforms like Facebook and Instagram,” Sellner continued. “This even affects people who share my last name, especially my wife, Brittany. The reason for this is a baseless investigation for ‘terrorism’, including two house-raids in 2019. Both house-raids have been declared illegal. The Austrian police were forced to return my property and delete all the data they collected. The highest court in Austria ruled that there was never a substantial suspicion to begin with. However, Facebook and Instagram still treat me as if I was a terrorist and Generation Identity a terrorist organization like ISIS.”
In 2018, Sellner and Pettibone travelled to the United Kingdom where he was scheduled to give a speech on migration. Though the couple were facing violent threats from Antifa militants, he continued to spread his message of using words and not violence to promote his ideology. Despite the fact that they were the ones who were being targeted with violent threats, the couple was stopped in the airport, detained, branded “dissidents,” and forced to leave the country. All of this for holding right-wing political views.
In 2019, Sellner had planned to travel to the US to marry Pettibone, who is from Idaho, but US authorities canceled his permit to travel without a visa. The couple had planned to wed in her home state, but their efforts were unsuccessful even with lobbying from her local Republican Committee of Kootenai County.
The Gateway Pundit has reached out to Instagram to ask if these photos were flagged using facial recognition software or from manual reporting by users, what their guidelines are for determining who is a “dangerous person,” and why they would remove and ban inoffensive non-political personal photos. We will update this report if a comment is provided.