Instagram recently started targeting meme accounts and purging them from the platform. Many of the accounts repost memes – posts featuring pictures and a slogan – that were created by other people, at times without giving credit to the creator. 15-year-old Ben owned eight comedy accounts. On July 26, five of them were suddenly inaccessible.
Ben, who declined to provide his last name, according to a report by MarketWatch, goes by “spicymp4” online. His @spicy.mp4 account had over 500,000 followers, and Ben regularly posted memes on the platform.
On July 26, @spicy.mp4 and four of his other accounts were purged by Instagram.
“I made sure to credit everything as I used to be a content creator myself and I know the frustration of not being credited,” said Ben about his posts.
Ben had been earning about $4,000 a month through his pages, largely by selling shout outs. Other users would compensate Ben to promote their pages on his accounts.
“I don’t have another job as Instagram paid in one week what I would get in one month of an actual job,” said Ben. While he didn’t believe that it would last forever, a mindset that led him to save most of what he made, he is now stuck looking for other sources of income.
Ben wasn’t the only account owner targeted by Instagram’s meme account purge. Last month, over 30 incredibly popular meme and funny video pages were banned by the social media platform, including some that had millions of followers.
While some meme accounts post original content, others repost content created by other people. Many meme accounts have been accused of stealing content from other creators without giving due credit.
“These accounts were disabled following multiple violations of our policies, including attempted abuse of our internal processes,” said an Instagram spokeswoman.
“It is becoming increasingly challenging to build a business where your sole revenue comes in from third-party social media platforms,” said Kris Ruby, a social media expert. Ruby also said that some of the meme accounts could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in a year.
@ComedySlam, an Instagram account run by 17-year-old Declan Mortimer that was purged on December 25, 2018, reportedly brought in $200,000 annually. That page had approximately 11 million followers before it was disabled.
Ben insists that he did not violate any of Instagram’s terms and conditions. Several other banned users also dispute the claim that they did anything wrong.
However, some social media users don’t have much sympathy for the purged reposting accounts.
So sad. I can’t believe I won’t be able to view stolen, aged memes on Instagram anymore. I guess I now don’t have a choice but to follow the original memers instead of making people who earn money from reposting well… earn money.
— Crate.xci (birthday today!🎉) (@TheOnlyCrate) July 30, 2019
Ben is still waiting to hear what he may have done wrong, and, along with others, has started a petition to try and recover the accounts.
“I’ve had no explanation from Instagram at all,” said Ben. “I’ve reached out multiple times and not heard back from an actual person, just a bot.”
Instagram has said that the purges are “final.”