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Instagram Deletes Dozens of Accounts With Millions of Followers Without Warning

Instagram Deletes Dozens of Accounts With Millions of Followers Without Warning

Instagram recently deleted dozens of accounts, some with up to 13 million followers, in a mass purge that focused on meme accounts. The company did not give any explanation for the suspensions beyond "violations of terms of service," but there are several theories as to why the accounts were removed.

The purge angered the account owners, many of whom generated up to $200,000 a year using their accounts. One user noted that he used the accounts to fund his college education and has now been left without a source of income. Instagram did not provide any of the users with specific reasons for the suspensions, though there are a few posited theories:

  • The users were offering promotion for other users at rates below what Instagram charges, and Instagram did not want the competition.
  • The users were profiting by monetizing reposted content without obtaining permission from the original creators, although at least one account was allegedly only posting original content.
  • The users were posting inappropriate material that violated community guidelines.
  • The users were using inside connections and paying Instagram employees for favors involving their accounts, such as offering services for getting accounts verified.

Instagram has noted that there is no way for the accounts to be recovered and the decisions are final, so we'll likely never know the actual reasons for the deletions. 

Lead image by Pixabay.

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Logan Cressler's picture

Not for my photography, not with instagram at least. I still have my business facebook page, but I dont use it a lot. For what I do, its just not that relevant for me. I understand it being important for some photographers, but for me, it doesnt really give me any benefits.

Alex Yakimov's picture

It takes an exponential effort to build a solid following on insta these days. Golden days are gone.

Logan Cressler's picture

It was less about the following for me, and more about finding clients. Real estate agents and airbnbs dont tend to scroll through instagram looking for photographers, and currently RE and rentals like AirBnB are my main clients. I direct market to them so I didnt need to put in the effort with insta.

Duane Klipping's picture

One user noted that he used the accounts to fund his college education and has now been left without a source of income.

Um how about you get a J O B. And do a thing called and known as W O R K.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Getting your i-gram up to the speed is a job worth something - social media managing - on par with programming and investing. It takes time an effort to build the following.
PS Of course,​ infringing on others work is really bad, no question about it.

Spy Black's picture

"Um how about you get a J O B. And do a thing called and known as W O R K."

How 'bout you take notice you're in the 21st century, and there's more than one way to skin a cat?

Alex Yakimov's picture

Suspicious that such measures are taken upon big fish which is ultimately ineffective measure against potential copyright violations using the logic of "broken window - zero tolerance to small offenders" theory. Thus it​ is likely that igram behavior was influenced by other things... like theory num 1 for instance...
https://www.tutor2u.net/sociology/reference/broken-windows-theory-explained

Daniel Medley's picture

"Thus it​ is likely that igram behavior was influenced by other things... like theory num 1 for instance."

Possibly, Shurik. But so what? They're a money making venture. At the end of the day, it's their platform and they can do as they like; so far, anyway. Building a sole livelihood on the whims of a paper thin social media presence is precarious at best.

Logan Cressler's picture

Yes, this. Thank you. The amount of people that feel entitled to facebook or instagram giving them money is absurd. "social media influencer" is not a solid business plan. For one, cause overnight and with no warning, it can all be lost. For two, because you have zero control of the people that control your ENTIRE BUSINESS. For three, there is no diversification. No investor in their right mind would ever invest in a business plan as poorly thought out as this.

Daniel Medley's picture

You're right, of course. I don't have a problem with people leveraging social media to make money by being an "influencer," more power to them. But if you willingly put your eggs into a basket that someone else owns and has complete control to do whatever they please it should come as no surprise if one day they simply toss the eggs and walk off with the basket if they so choose.

After all, it's their basket.

Logan Cressler's picture

Never hitch your wagon to horses you dont control, they will only take you to where they want to go.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Danny is a rough equivalent of Shurik, I suppose. I was just stating my observation. Dan, I didn't mean to show my arrogance at all as it apparently appeared for many downvoters.
Precarious or not building a social following is a valued skill these days.
P.S. nice work with portraits​

Daniel Medley's picture

Nothing wrong with different opinions, Alexander. I mean no offense. My son's name is Aleksander and my wife calls him Shurik. Im the only one in my family who is not fluent in Russian :)

Alex Yakimov's picture

Wow, Daniel, curious to know more. :-) No offense taken.

Joshua Kolsky's picture

literally dozens

K G's picture

My heart bleeds . . . Not. These so called 'influencers' with zero talent of their own who just repost other people's work for likes are a scourge. But anyone who follows these useless beings is equally as guilty for helping them get a free ride

Alex Yakimov's picture

It is bad to use the work of others without explicit permission. No question about it.
My point is that many more Instagram accounts alike, but much smaller, are still intact.
If some governing entity truly wants to do a just thing it might need to be done more thoroughly, not only for selected few high profile offenders - it does little to stop such behavior en masse.

P.S. If it takes zero talent to build a multimillion following, then it must be pure luck then?

Mike Kelley's picture

It is so much easier to build a following using other people's work that you can just cherry pick instead of creating original content. It's not even close, dude.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Thank you for your opinion, Mike. Do you have such experience or maybe you could show some stats to support your point?

Daniel Medley's picture

Wait, you need "stats" to show that creating engaging content is more difficult than simply usurping already existing content?

Some things are so obvious that proof of stats would be considered absurd by most reasonable people.Most people don't have stats that prove an orange is not an apple, but reasonable people can deduce it with simple logic.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Daniel, people used to believe that the earth-centric​ model was obvious and self-explanatory and did not require testing. It is obvious that among many hundreds of million users there are only a ​handful of accounts with the significant multimillion following which was eradicated - which doe not support your claim. If it is so easy to build a successful following why not more?

Daniel Medley's picture

Tell me. What am I claiming?

Alex Yakimov's picture

Dan, If you believe that usurping others work to build a large following is much easier then building upon authentic content why then only 12 such accounts were banned, should it be more?

Daniel Medley's picture

"Dan, If you believe that usurping others work to build a large following is much easier then building upon authentic content why then only 12 such accounts were banned, should it be more?"

I don't think they have to be connected. I don't know why they only chose the 12 they did. But it still doesn't negate the fact that creating content is much more difficult than "borrowing" it.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Let's assume it is much easier to build upon borrowing, I do not see much evidence to support that either, that is why I ask to give some examples... It is possible to borrow stuff in a perfectly legal way by using Unsplash. Unsplash is a great resource with tons of content, but I am not aware of many multimillion accounts employing that ... Thus my common sense contradicts the apparent easiness of building a ​successful following by using borrowed stuff...

Alex Yakimov's picture

For me, it is easier to do what I love - to create stuff myself even it is apparently harder to do and more time-consuming​.

Eric Mazzone's picture

Quit defending the content thieves​!

Alex Yakimov's picture

Dear Eric. I am not defending content thieves. I am puzzled of how did you come to such a conclusion. My point is that Instagram didn't go far enough, there is​ plenty of small content thievery left. Have you heard about "broken window" theory"? Besides I was curious about any knowledge of any particular offenders which were erased.

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