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Instagram puts Scumbag Steve on its search term blacklist

The rapper-turned-meme, real name Blake Boston, claims Instagram is blocking his hashtag from its search in an act of “meme censorship.”


Lauren Rae Orsini


From time to time, photo-sharing app Instagram blocks pornographic and profane hashtags from search to help comply with its own nudity-banning Terms of Use.

But Blake Boston, the face of popular image macro Scumbag Steve, is calling the platform’s latest hashtag blocking decision “meme censorship.”

“Seriously, are we living in the U.S,” he wrote on Tumblr. “Cuz this shit is whacked. Scumbag Steve hash tag on instagram is considered too close to porn. Don’t censor the fucking Internet!”

Boston told the Daily Dot that he doesn’t know exactly why the #scumbagsteve tag disappeared on Instagram yesterday, but that it happened shortly after the media accused Instagram of serving as an unintentional porn haven.

“I guess they’re cracking down on unsavory hash tags and mine got aced along with porn etc. weird huh? Search it= no results,” he tweeted.

Boston may cry “meme censorship,” but as far as we could tell, he is the only meme affected by Instagram’s hashtag blacklist. Searches for #doublerainbowguy, #overlyattachedgirlfriend, and even the slightly suggestive sounding #bedintruder are untouched.

The Daily Dot was unable to reach Instagram—which has 100 million users and fewer than 20 employees—for comment.

However, Phil González of the popular Instagram user community Instagramers was able to shed some light on the hashtag blocks. González said the first tags to be blocked were about sexual topics, and the blocking began in January 2011.

“Before then, it was impossible to find photos through a ‘tag search,’” he said. “When that became available, so did the possibility to find tags related to ‘delicate’ topics… and many of them disappeared.”

Occasionally, González said, Instagram has blocked a tag by mistake. Even “#Instagram”—currently the platform’s most popular tag according to Webstagram—was once accidentally blacklisted.

“I remember one day people mentioned it was impossible to tag #instagram and then recently #iphoneography, which didn’t make any sense,” he said. “I think that in these two cases, the tags overloaded the servers with information Instagram didn’t think was relevant.”

#Instagram and #iphoneography are back, but it’s not yet clear whether blocking #scumbagsteve was also a mistake.

Photo by Christina Warren/Tumblr

The Daily Dot