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Instagram bans sex offenders. So why does Tekashi 6ix9ine have 23 million followers?

He has over 23 million followers on the platform.

Jun 24, 2020, 8:50 am*

Tech

Alex Thomas 

Alex Thomas

Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine has made a living as much from his music as from his outlandish appearance, His face features a large “69” tattoo beneath his rainbow-colored hair, along with multiple other “69” tattoos across his stomach and arms.

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But the 24-year-old’s biggest hit came this week, when his song “Trolls” with Nicki Minaj debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

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The single is 6ix9ine’s only No. 1 Billboard hit and marks Minaj’s second time at the top spot. 

A great deal of his fanbase is on Instagram, where the rapper has a verified account with over 23 million followers. 

But a Facebook company spokesperson, which owns Instagram, told the Daily Dot this week that 6ix9ine’s Instagram account is under review after the Daily Dot raised questions about Instagram’s Terms of Service and how those rules apply to the musician.

6ix9ine appears to be in direct violation of Instagram’s rules on sex offenders.

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The New York rapper, whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez, pled guilty in October of 2015 to using a child in a sexual performance when he was 18, stemming from an incident in which he was filmed slapping the buttocks of a nude 13-year-old girl in February of 2015.

The crime is a class C felony in New York. Hernandez said that he posted a video of himself and the 13-year-old girl to his Instagram account and told the authorities that he used WhizApp to crosspost the content.

Instagram’s Terms of Service read that, in order to use Instagram, “You must not be a convicted sex offender.”

There is no doubt that the rapper built his brand on the platform; in 2017, before he had even dropped an album, Jezebel noted that he had over a million followers on Instagram. 

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Since leaving prison on his most recent, different gang-related charges, Tekashi 6ix9ine broke Instagram’s record for the most viewers on a live video with over two million people watching as he showed off an ankle bracelet and danced to the song “Bad Boys” while rattling a pair of handcuffs. 

Hernandez was later sentenced to four years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service after he pled guilty to the sex offense. The Manhattan district attorney on that case asked for 6ix9ine to be sentenced to one to three years in prison and that he be registered as a sex offender. But the judge declined to force Hernandez to register. 

Regardless, the sex offense remains on his record.

In the criminal complaint, detective Maureen Sheehan writes that she viewed three videos featuring Hernandez and the 13-year-old girl and that in one of the videos, “the child is completely nude and sitting across the laps of the defendant and the separately charged defendant, Taquan Anderson.”

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In another of the videos, Sheehan writes that “the child engages in oral sexual intercourse with the separately charged defendant Taquan Anderson, while the defendant, Daniel Hernandez, stands behind the child making a thrusting motion with his pelvis and smacking her on the buttocks. The child is nude in the video.”

According to Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer who specializes in sex crimes in big tech, “Strictly speaking [Tekashi 6ix9ine] is in violation with a platform banning ‘convicted sex offenders.’ However, it’s really up to the platforms—and not the users—to enforce their community standards.”

Goldberg added that the use of platforms by sex offenders is prevalent, with tech companies turning a blind eye.

“One of the issues we see all the time are serial rapists and child predators trolling mainstream platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Discord, Tinder,” she told the Daily Dot. “Platforms do virtually nothing to filter out sex offenders even when their terms of services ban them. Unfortunately because of a 1995 federal law, platforms have no responsibility to their users. So if a sex offender does harm somebody, the victim has no rights against the platform.”

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In 2018, Tekashi 6ix9ine was arrested on a string of charges, including racketeering and was sentenced to 47 years to life. The sentence was later reduced to 24 months after he cooperated with the government, leading to a number of cases against members of his former gang, the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods.

In February of 2020, the Department of Justice announced in a press release that the leader of the gang, Aljermiah Mack, was sentenced to 17 years in prison. 

In their statement, the DoJ said that Mack was one of the “highest-ranking members” of the gang. Hernandez’s testimony against Mack and other Nine Treys lasted for three days in federal court.

The rapper’s government cooperation led to him being branded a “snitch.”

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Snoop Dogg—who is a frequent 6ix9ine critic—wrote on Instagram, “as we watch Tekashi 69 (or whatever his name is) snitch on EVERYBODY, I invite you all to remember Martha Stewart snitched on NOT ONE soul during her trial. Baby girl kept it 10 toes down and ate that prison sentence by herself, like the true baddie she is.”

6ix9ine was released from prison early, due to coronavirus concerns. In April, Pitchfork reported that he would serve the final four months of his sentence in home confinement. 

Soon after “Trolls” debuted, he posted a video on Instagram of himself popping a bottle of champagne with the caption “#1 ON @billboard YOU CANT STOP ME. YOU CANT BLACKBALL ME. DIDNT I TELL YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO RADIOOOOOOOOO (ZERO) @applemusic @spotify @thelarryjackson @carlchery DIDNT GIVE US ANY MAJOR PLAYLISTING on Spotify and Apple.”

He added, “YOU CANT BLACKBALL MEEEEEE IM TO BIG OF A STARRRRRRRRRRRR.”

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Update 8:46am CT, June 24: In a statement to the Daily Dot, Facebook highlighted Tekashi 6ix9ine’s “youthful offender” status in a decision to keep him on the platform, according to a spokesperson.

Under [New York] law, a person adjudicated as a ‘youthful offender’ is not convicted of a crime, therefore this individual is allowed an account. 

This story has been updated.

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*First Published: Jun 23, 2020, 8:09 am