Instagram is cracking down on meme accounts and leaving some users without a source of income, according to Insider.
In what Instagram users are calling a “meme purge,” accounts with large followings were permanently banned over the past few days for violating the platform’s terms and conditions.
Many of the users who were de-platformed were attached to networks that charged other social media users $150 to $200 to have their accounts promoted on their pages. As noted by Insider, the combined reach of these accounts exceeded 30 million followers.
One of the affected users, Caige, told the outlet that he was on track to make $30,000 this year. The 18-year-old computer engineering student also said he was using the income from selling promotions to pay for his college tuition fees.
However, the accounts may not have been suspended due to paid promotions. A Facebook spokesperson told Insider that using a network to charge users for advertising doesn’t violate Instagram’s terms and conditions. Therefore, it’s more likely that the suspended accounts were purged for other reasons.
In a statement given to The Daily Dot, an Instagram representative stated that the penalized accounts were banned for “multiple violations of our policies, including attempted abuse of our internal processes.”
Caige claims that he did not violate any of the terms of service that the social media platform allegedly banned accounts for — including fraudulently obtaining usernames and sharing users’ bank account details. The 18-year-old believes Instagram was looking for “an excuse to eliminate the meme pages.”
@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
Despite many users now being left without their main source of income, not everyone is sympathetic to their situation. As Rolling Stone noted, meme accounts are frequently criticized for sharing other people’s content and profiting from it. Sometimes, they don’t even gain permission from the original creators or credit them where it’s due.
Jerry Media, an advertising company operating as a meme page, recently came under fire for stealing people’s tweets, removing credit, and monetizing posts which they shared with over 40 million followers. The Rolling Stone article reports that the company charged clients “upwards of $75,000 for a single branded post and $25,000 for a “swipe-up story.”
The so-called meme purge is the latest case in a spate of high-profile account bans by Instagram. Last week, The Inquisitr reported that influential cosplayer Belle Delphine — who became a viral sensation after selling jars of her used bathwater — lost access to the platform, seemingly due to the lewd nature of the content she shared.