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#Trottergate - how a pigs trotter turned into a viral sensation

#Trottergate - how a pigs trotter turned into a viral sensation

By Abby Allen
16, March 2019

Hitting the headlines last week 'Instagram censors image of pig's trotter'...

Last week chef and food writer Olia Hercules unwittingly was center of a viral campaign on censorship of food.

Olia who is researching her latest cookbook posted a simple photo of Pipers Farm pigs ears and trotters, and after only a matter of hours, Instagram took the decision to censor the image - presumably due to a complaint.

Ukranian-born Ms Hercules shared the image on Tuesday praising the quality and affordability of the trotters and ears and asking her followers why they have fallen out of favour with UK diners.

"This photo contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing" the filter read.

Ms Hercules responded by asking Instagram why they felt the need to censor the image of the raw ingredients and don't apply the same standard to cooked food or other ingredients. 

"My husband is vegetarian, I am a meat eater. In the seven years I have been on Instagram, not once have they censored an image with a meat dish in it"

"Yet when I post something that looks like the animal it came from, someone reports it. People have become far too detached and too squeamish."

"Meat does not come out of a plastic packet as a shapeless lump. It belonged to the animal, so if Instagram decides to censor pig's ears, it should censor minced meat, too" Ms Hercules went on to explain. 


Later that evening the news had spread and thousands had left comments across various social media platforms, outraged with Instagram's bizarre decision.

"So true... crazy that They sometimes make me feel like a criminal... while I, as a craftsman, just want to change the way of eating meat ... while nobody shouts to those big crap processing companies!" - Hendrick Dierendonck

"Where do people think their food comes from? I’m a huge advocate of knowing where my dinner was living, how it was reared and looked after. I get some people can be squeamish but this is food." - Mark Barefoot

"In order to eat an animal, one should respect the animal. Ignoring where the flesh comes from is choosing to be in ignorant bliss. Respect the animal by actively choosing to know where the food comes from, thanking for the sacrifice, and by using all parts to not waste the life." - Emily Elizabeth

Industry influencers pressured the social sharing platform to act more responsibly when it comes to their stance on images of food and create an equal playing field for all. 

"Too right Olia. What a load of nonsense. It’s the likes of ubiquitous fast food chains selling cheap processed meat ‘product’ that should be censored." - Claire Thompson, 5 o'clock apron 

However, Instagrams censorship of the image raises wider concerns. It isn't the first time the platform has censored an image of butchered meat. In September last year, a London restaurant created a similar viral storm when they posted an image of a whole grouse including head and feet in a bid to educate their customers about what's on their plate.

Many small-scale farmers also joined in the conversation and commented that they too have had videos and images removed by social sharing giants Facebook and Instagram. 

Anti-cyber bullying

There seems to be a worrying trend that social tycoons could have an agenda when it comes to the type of content they are allowing on their platforms.

Farmers, including ourselves, have seen a significant volume of malicious attacks about livestock farming and meat production, at the same time we have also seen an increase in posts being removed or unapproved by social sites.

There is a growing concern about the bias forming on social platforms making it more difficult for artisan producers to help connect their audience with the real story of how their food has been produced. 

More worryingly, however, is the increase in farmers under attack on social platforms. This week the Sustainable Food Trust posted an article about how the rise in online abuse is impacting farmers mental health

In the article Abi Reader comments "People send horrible images of animal abuse that you can’t un-see,” she says. “They comment, if you put up a photo of a calf, to tell you you’ll be shooting it soon, and make assumptions that you keep calves in solitary confinement without food and water.” “Lots of people have called me a murderer, rapist and kidnapper.” 

There’s a responsibility on social media companies to take more seriously the threats aimed at farmers and related businesses, and act as quickly as possible. More widely, there have been persistent calls for social media giants, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to improve their anti-cyber bullying and harassment measures.

Our view

As always we will continue to show our followers every step of real artisan food production. Trotters and all...

It is our mission to connect our customers with how food is produced. There should be no need to censor the realities of real sustainable food culture. If you are choosing to abstain from eating meat, we respect that choice, but we do believe that for those who choose to eat animal products, it is important they understand where their food has come from, and how together, we can make eating meat more sustainable.  

Follow us using @pipersfarm

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