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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

While I agree that Instagram did not go far enough, I also hope they continue the process, deleting accounts that just repost other peoples content. They need to cull the entire platform and go back to only allowing people to post their own, original work.

But this at a minimum does more than most people are taking into account. By purging the biggest accounts, all the smaller accounts are put on notice, that all their... ahem... "hard work" creating their account, is easily lost overnight with no warning.

Instagram as a platform, if they wish to stay relevant, needs to make everyone only post original work that they own the copyright for.

S M's picture

Alexander, I also agree everyone gaming the IG system should be dealt with equally. I think though that news of big accounts being shut down will far outweigh news of small accounts being shut down. In fact, I’d bet that at least 1000x more small accounts partaking in these practices have been shut down. We just don’t hear about them because it makes more sense to report on the larger fish than it does the smaller.

Also, I can 100% guarantee that IG isn’t done culling their system for frauds. I don’t know how hard it is to spot a fake. But when my work is reposted without credit/compensation I handle it first by asking the abuser for compensation, and then escalate to turning the matter over to IG to handle with their spam report method.

All this said, I have no researched numbers to confirm my above stated assumptions. I’m using common sense.

Alex Yakimov's picture

Steven lets hope that you are right. And theory #1 is out of place.
Have you heard of Tipping Point?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tipping_Point

Douglas Bowker's picture

The thing is, later studies showed that many more factors were involved than just the Broken Window factor. Mostly it came down to broader economic opportunities, the national economy moving upwards, among others. It also had the unintended (I like to hope it was) of mass incarceration of the minority populations when you had minor offenses push into felony territory, couple with so-called Three Strikes laws. I am a fan of Tipping Point, but that chapter either needs updating or redacting in future editions.

Paul Scharff's picture

Works for me.

Eric Mazzone's picture

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.

THIS, and only THIS. The one account that allegedly only posting original content, was posting content it originally stole.

Logan Cressler'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."

Yea, this is called being fired. This is the problem when you rely on other peoples services (instagram, facebook, whatever) to make your money. Don't be bitching when you hitch your wagon onto someone else's horses and then all of a sudden they kick you out.

The amount of entitlement these days is ridiculous.

c0ld c0ne's picture

Can't the same be said of anyone working for a single employer?

Matthew Garmston's picture

i think the reason for them being banned is because or a certain picture they posted, it was a mix of gay prida, nazi, alabama and the jewish star, some accounts show that meme as being reported and they may be deleted, the meme is titled, lets offend everyone, and instagram have probably seen it and banned them straight away

Tom Chamberlain's picture

I'm left wondering why people follow meme accounts, I'm a photographer so it doesn't make sense to me. With that said, I follow Bodega Cats of Instagram, which is an endless stream of cat pictures. Cats are essentially fuzzy memes. How do meme accounts make money? Is IG really deleting these accounts because they're not getting a piece of pie?

Cedric TOSONI's picture

And I have been fighting for months to remove two fake accounts that use my photos and pretend to me !!!
Without answers from instagram! Incredible !!!