Editorial: Instagram builds a wall around the ‘#horror’ hashtag


Every generation has blamed the one after it for having broken with convention and turning the societal norms of the day on their head, and, as a result, fucked shit up. Elvis’ hip gyrations (tame by today’s standards) and 1950s Rock & Roll were, conservatives said, the devil’s work and would damn the souls of teenage innocents who partook in the troubling but infectious music (as if previous generations weren’t getting their grind on by any means necessary).

Now it appears the digital generation, or at least those behind the gold-pleated curtain at social-media behemoth INSTAGRAM (a Facebook company) have decided that fans of the genre of horror are causing the ills that plague our society today. If you currently query the #horror hashtag on the network, you’ll get stopped dead in your tracks by the following notice:

Can we help?

Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death. — Instagram

Then they posit: “If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.”

Instagram's Firewall Against #horror.

Instagram’s Firewall Against #horror.

It’s not clear if Instagram’s actions were perpetuated by the dramatic uptick in hate-related crimes or the mass killings that have become a numbing normal occurrence across the United States. But we are sure that trying to disguise censorship in the cloak of altruism is hypocrisy at its finest. As of this writing, there are 14,830,147 posts referenced with the #horror hashtag that are being treated as the possible catalysts for “behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death.” Say what?

Ironic when the gates of hashtags like #murder, #lynching and #satan are allowed to swing wide open.

So what’s wrong with putting a hashtag on the other end of a digital speed bump? Here are a few reasons —

Our colleagues at Dread Central voiced their concerns yesterday. And Academy Award-winning horror director Jordan Peele recently chimed in as the entertainment media has attempted to water down his latest film ‘US‘ by referring to it as a “thriller.” All this seems to break the surface on the heels of the genre coming to the fore of mainstream entertainment, as well as POC start gaining ground in the genre while telling our own innate stories. Coincidence?

This no different than Steven Spielberg’s convulsions as NetFlix content begins being nominated for an Oscar. It appears “Big Hollywood,” and those who benefit the most, just don’t want to share the boxoffice and horror has always threatened the tent-pole films coming out of tinsletown. Every year the Hollywood system sounds the alarm and pronounces the death of horror as their peak movie-going seasons approach (“this summer” / “ this holiday season”), and every year the genre of fear kicks the doors open.

The industry even tried to relegate horror  to the grave where cinematic bombs were sent to die: February. Now horror flourishes there!  Horror won’t die, no matter what you do to it. It’s almost as if the haters and saboteurs have not seen Friday the 13th.

So why kick up so much dust at having a hashtag put behind a firewall, you ask? Because censorship is wrong no matter where it occurs. Horror fans are entitled to the kinds of entertainment we are passionate about, just like anyone else. We built LATIN HORROR on that premise. And those in guilded towers aren’t going to take that away from US. 😉

So when Instagram asks “Can we help?” — our only response is YES. TEAR DOWN THAT WALL! #freethehorror



Edwin "El Miedo" Pagán
Edwin "El Miedo" Pagán is the Founder-In-Chief of LATIN HORROR. Pagán is a writer, filmmaker and life-long horror fan. In 2008 he founded LATIN HORROR, an online niche market website specializing in Latin-influenced horror, its documentation, and promotion as a distinct genre. Pagán is at the forefront of the Latin "Dark Creative Expressionist" movement, a term he coined as a means of identifying the millions of lost souls who live outside the rim of mainstream society and whose lifestyle and work is grounded in horror, the macabre, and gothic arts. Currently, he is penning a book entitled 'MIEDO - The History of Latin Horror.' Trivia: He is noted for ending his written correspondence with the offbeat salutation 'There will be SANGRE!'

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