Instagram Deleted Three Accounts From the Same Guy and Put His Dream Lifestyle on Hold

Instagram Deleted Three Accounts From the Same Guy and Put His Dream Lifestyle on Hold

Instagram is the most popular platform for photographers to display their work and reach an audience. If you know how, you can even turn it into a business and make a living off it. Imagine now, you wake up and Instagram has deleted all your family photos, favorite memories, connections, friends, and portfolio work?

That is exactly what happened to Kenneth LeRose on the 21st of August 2019. After having reported a few accounts that were impersonating him it seems Instagram mistakenly took him for being the fraud and deleted two of his pages. As he knew this was a mistake he assumed he could get help through the Instagram help and support pages. After all, he had never posted anything that violates Instagram’s policies or guidelines. One wonders how that happens in the first place. Why is Instagram not verifying an account that obviously has existed longer, is bigger, and has more organic reach than the imposters have before closing it down?

Over the years LeRose has built up a community and business that allows him to live his dream life in an airstream and travel full time. He is very dependent on social media for his income and without it, the dream ends. Although he both has a YouTube and a Facebook page, it is his Instagram that contains the largest following. His income is divided between teaching photography workshops, selling his art online, and he has transformed his airstream into a gallery called “Master Art Gallery on Wheels”.

Frustrated that the fake accounts were still active he used his dogs Instagram account to report the fakers a second time. As soon as he reported the fake accounts on the morning of the 22nd, Instagram deactivated his dog's account too!

Imagine the frustration having having several years of build up taken from you. Instagram has no phone number or e-mail to reach their customer service. You can only create tickets from within the app. Three weeks later and after having sent hundreds of tickets, pictures of himself, and his license Instagram did not resolve the problem. The only responses he got was generic automated emails.

He created a backup account to make sure he was present on the platform and to have contact to the closest friends and followers at @krl_photo_backup. He asked people to help him out tagging @Instagram in their photos and send tickets.

One of LeRose's personal favorites

Facebook owns Instagram and the amount of stories about either companies’ incompetence in handling their own platforms are staggering. Obviously, we should not complain about having a “free” service (it is not actually free, we all know we pay with our information), which allows us to build up a business on our own. However, when that same “free” service pulls the rug out from underneath our feet it becomes a huge ethical violation.

As with the writing of this article, LeRose’s three accounts were restored. A person who works at Instagram had seen one of the many posts his followers had created and reacted to it by making an internal ticket to Instagram informing about the situation. Within 24 hours, the three accounts were reinstated. LeRose then asked the person to help one of his friends who were in the same situation. The friend’s account was reinstated 24 hours later.

LeRose’s story has been brought in a local Texan magazine too but it took an employee to see a post where Instagram was tagged for the situation to be solved. Is that really what it takes for Instagram to take affair? Maybe next time let us make a chain SMS or chain email? It is extremely worrying that Instagram uncritically removes someone’s account and you cannot get it back through the official means.

Another fantastic photo from LeRose's portfolio.

So, what can we learn from all this?

Firstly, the photography community is fantastic and willing to help each other. Secondly, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Even though LeRose did not risk everything on one endeavor, it is important for every one of us who depends on the social media to reach our audience, not to just focus on one platform.

Both LeRose and I find it important to bring awareness to a situation like this. Whether it was a human error or the algorithm that blocked LeRose from his accounts this just must not happen.

Be sure to check out the work of LeRose here:

KRL Photo

Mister Airstream

The Suba Way

Have you had similar experience or heard similar stories? Let me know down below.

All images used with permission from Kenneth LeRose

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20 Comments

After a title I had expected «satire» tag...

Marcus Joyce's picture

It gotcha clicking!! It's free service (fstoppers) after all!

Marcus Joyce's picture

It's a shame somebody didn't invent an open internet, where one could self host an online journal of sorts. Where people could cross post with a common account that they own.

I'll invent it and I'll call it a blog!!

Jeff Walsh's picture

I've read your reply a few times, can you tell me the point you were trying to make, I'm missing it.

Tony Tumminello's picture

I believe his point is that ceding control of your work to a third party is not without its risks; clearly all it takes is a misunderstanding to have your work deleted and it's very possible that it might never be reinstated. If you host your own website, manage your own domain, etc then the risks that your work will be randomly deleted are greatly reduced.

Jeff Walsh's picture

You mean like the website the photographer already has? Where all his work is posted, beyond Insta, that is literally linked in the article itself? Because as best I can tell, the point of the article was that this photog had his accounts deleted by Insta, through a misunderstanding, and the problem lay with the fact that this photog generates most of his business through Insta.

Having a website, or blog, changes none of that. He has a website, and his Insta accounts are gone, and his major stream of work is thus gone.

That's why I asked what the point of the comment was, because having a blog changes nothing, unless I missed a major point in the article.

Dan Marchant's picture

"and the problem lay with the fact that this photog generates most of his business through Insta. "

Which is exactly the point Richard and Marcus are making. Instead of building a business that relied on a service he doesn't own or control he should have been using his social media accounts to drive traffic to his website (where he should offer stuff over and above social media to keep people coming back).

Marcus Joyce's picture

The website he has is an eshop.

Not a social media platform. I can't go through his feed of photos or like/comment but I can buy them.

Just because Instagram did what they did it will happen again and again, my main point is maybe someday people will take control of their content, pay for it to be hosted and this distributed system of self hosted content will lessen the harm that loss of Instagram causes people.

Studio 403's picture

In 1980 everyone told me computers were going to make my life simple and easy......humm.

Phillip Breske's picture

Clearly Facebook and Instagram ARE absolutely free, since people put no value on their personal privacy anymore. How can you pay for a service with something that has no value?

Just me's picture

If his life depend on Instagram, there is a problem somewhere.

Steven Magner's picture

I still remember him from Tracy Lees stories last year. “this is KRL PHOTO!”

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen's picture

I must say that the photography community are very friendly and always willing to help a buddy out. The best thing with IG for sure :)

Kai Hornung's picture

Honestly, the increasing amount of click-baiting headlines turns me off a bit on fstoppers. Just like I don’t read tabloid newspapers.
But the article is actually great in pointing out the core strength of Instagram: it’s connecting people! And i am glad the guy got his accounts back.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

As long as the title reflects what's in the article and don't bait you into clicking on some spam/malware link it's all good but I know what you mean. The problem is that kind of "attention-grabbing" headlines work. The articles get about x3 - x10 times the reach (if not more) with a headline like this. As long as people do not press "precise and boring headlines" free content on the internet sadly has to play on some basic psychological factors. It's the same we see on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter etc. whatever has a negative connotation, caps lock, confirmation of the self, boobs or goes against the established narrative by provoking will get more clicks and as clicks means $$$. It is a super hard line to walk.

Michael Holst's picture

Can I ask a side question?

Is anyone else skeptical of the size of the moon in that Jeep photo? Also, the night sky (last photo) can do that?

Why skeptical? He is « fine art » photographer. Photoshop is his friend.

They're all fake composites.

"Although he both has a YouTube and a Facebook page, it is his Instagram that contains the largest following."
That's because 90% of Instagram followers are bots.

Have some integrity and boycott platforms that are rotten to the core.

William Faucher's picture

It's quite unfortunate that IG has so little in the way of customer support, especially when people's livelihoods are at stake. Makes it pretty risky to have your business depend on social media.