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Instagram has new rules for removing accounts

Instagram will take down your account if you have a number of violations within a window of time.

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Instagram has made changes to its policy about removing accounts.

James Martin/CNET

Instagram said Thursday it's rolling out changes to how it decides what accounts to take down, a sign that the photo sharing site is getting tougher about removing offensive content that violates its rules.

The Facebook-owned company will start removing accounts that rack up a number of violations within a window of time. Currently, Instagram takes down accounts that have a certain percentage of content that violates its rules.

An Instagram spokeswoman said it isn't sharing the exact number of violations or time frame because of concerns users will game the system.

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Instagram will notify users if their account may be removed.

Instagram

"Similarly to how policies are enforced on Facebook, this change will allow us to enforce our policies more consistently and hold people accountable for what they post on Instagram," the company said in a blog post.

The announcement comes during the same week that a man suspected of killing a 17-year-old girl posted a photo of her bloody body on what appeared to be his Instagram account. Instagram pulled down the photo and deleted his account but the copies of the image still reappeared on the site and other platforms afterward, raising concerns about how well the social network and others moderate content. The company has also come under fire for not doing enough to combat bullying or shielding teenagers from images of self-harm

At the same time, Instagram and parent company Facebook continue to face allegations that it's suppressing conservative voices. Facebook has denied those allegations.

Instagram said it'll notify users if their account is at risk of being removed along with a way to appeal the company's decision. Users will be able to appeal if their content was taken down for violating Instagram's rules against nudity and pornography, bullying and harassment, hate speech, drug sales, and counter-terrorism. 

Instagram said in the coming months it'll expand appeals. It's also giving users a way to submit appeals directly within the photo sharing app. Currently, users have to go through the site's help center.

The company will delete accounts right away if they violate the company's drug sales or sexual solicitation policies.