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The platform removed at least 30 meme pages, surpassing a combined 33 million followers, allegedly for violating its terms of service.
Update 3:20pm CT, July 27: The alleged violations included selling and purchasing usernames and attempts to fraudulently obtain others’ usernames.
“These accounts were disabled following multiple violations of our policies, including attempted abuse of our internal processes,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Dot in an email.
Purged Instagram meme account owners speak out
One user who ran multiple popular meme accounts provided Twitter with the notices they received when attempting to access their pages.
“Your account has been deleted for not following our terms,” the message read. “You won’t be able to log into this account and no one else will be able to see it.”
this is the endgame. 40m+ followers and over $600k+ in accounts lost in two days. @instagram @facebook fucking own up to what you did and rollback, you can’t stay silent in this. peronally lost 600k+ followers for no good reason. #reactivatespicy #memepurge pic.twitter.com/xpgy8KrH2d— Ben (@spicymp4) July 27, 2019
The user added they had gained 40 million followers and raked in over $600,000 from the now-deleted accounts. In fact, many of the Instagram meme page owners made tens of thousands of dollars per year through advertising and sponsored posts, Reclaim the Net noted.
Fox 5 San Diego reported that another user, an 18-year-old named Caige, said he earned more than $30,000 from just one page, @autist, this year. He said he was saving the money for college.
@instagram you just deleted all of my accounts for absolutely no reason, no warning, and no context behind this. (30 million+ followers worth of accounts deleted in 24 hours) #fuckinstagram #reactivateyerdank #reactivateautist pic.twitter.com/nJY6CvkQkW— yerdank (@umCaige) July 26, 2019
Meme accounts lost large followings
Instagram removed other popular meme pages, as well. The mass deletion included @Finest.Inventions, a page with over 13 million followers, and @uniquevines, which had more than 8.3 million followers.
Many think the removals relate to the company’s “objectionable content” rules. Twitter users also guessed that Instagram deleted the pages for posting memes without the creators’ permission.
Most of the accounts stole memes from Reddit and the memes were being used without the people’s permission so you guys kinda broke a rule— Sturext (@Sturext8) July 27, 2019
Removing high-profile pages is nothing new for the platform, though. Instagram removed Belle Delphine–the gamer girl with 4.5 million followers who recently made headlines for selling jars of her bathwater–from the platform in July following a mass reporting campaign.
The purge also comes as Instagram expanded its test of hiding likes to several countries. That test, which could become standard worldwide, outraged Instagram influencers who say the move made it more difficult to make a living on the platform.
Now, it seems that big meme accounts are sucking up to Instagram to avoid deletion. For example, @godsbleach changed its bio to, “I LOVE INSTAGRAM @instagram I LOVE YOUR APP ITS AMAZING.”
The flattery may be working: @godsbleach’s page is currently still on Instagram.
This post has been updated to include an official statement from Instagram and for relevance.
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified the person Fox 5 San Diego identified as the owner of the Instagram account @autist. Fox 5 San Diego reported the owner is an 18-year-old named Caige.
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H/T Reclaim the Net
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.