Instagram Retires #RapeFace after Hearing from RAINN Supporters

Survivor holding up a post-it note saying "hashtag rape face is not a joke"

Familiar with the term #rapeface? Commonly intended as a joke, it refers to the facial expression of a perpetrator prior to a sexual assault. According to the Huffington Post, it’s in wide use among the junior high set.

Last week, a search for #rapeface on Instagram revealed 40,000+ photos tagged as such, with new photos being posting every couple of minutes. Until RAINN supporters jumped into action, that is. Within 48 hours of RAINN’s launch of a ‘#rapeface is not a joke’ social media campaign, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, put an end to the meme: a search revealed no photos with the #rapeface tag.

“We are pleased that Instagram took this step,” says Katherine Hull, RAINN’s vice president for communications. “Now, we’d like to see other sites follow. We need to make it clear that #rapeface is a not a joke.”

Let's change the conversation to let people know that #rapeface is not a joke. Here are a few ways you can help:

1) Take over the #rapeface feed.
Write "#rapeface is not a joke" on a piece of paper and cover your face with it. Take a picture and include the hashtag. Share on your social networks.

2) Make your voice heard.
Post an update saying, "#rapeface is not a joke. Sexual assault is serious. Get help here:"

3) Change the conversation.
As Sandra Hawken Diaz wrote in HuffPost, "Words are powerful. Words have consequences. When a word like rape is used as a joke, it trivializes sexual assault."

Help your friends retire the term. When you see someone using this hashtag, share in the comments to remind people that "rape is not a joke."

Learn more here:

    Instagram screenshot on 11/22 at 2:44pm ET

    Screen grab from instagram showing many survivors holding signs saying "hashtag rape face is not a joke"


    Instagram screenshot on 11/22 at 4:22 pm ET

    Screen grab from instagram showing no search results for "hastag rape face"


    Join RAINN's online conversation by connecting to our social networks:

    If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it's not your fault. You are not alone. Talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. Help is just a call or click away via RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800.656.HOPE and

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