In 2014 I set up my first Instagram account. Instagram had finally created an Android version and I downloaded it as soon as I could. I was thrilled with this wild, new world of social media before me. An entire app fueled by photos was exciting for me. Within Instagram I saw the potential to create miniature blogs and share my love of the world around me through pictures.
In 2016 I became “serious” about Instagram and made real efforts to grow my following. It took a lot of time but in two years I grew to just at 4000 followers. My engagement rate stayed between 3% and 5%, with some posts going as high as 10%. I met friends through it. I connected with real humans both near and far over the last two years. I’ve worked with awesome brands and I’ve learned a lot about myself and about influencer marketing.
And then this happened:
This photo, posted 4 months ago, was removed and a threat was issued. Why was my post removed? Well, not for actually violating any sort of guidelines.
Here is the photo removed:
According to Instagram’s own guidelines, I did not violate a single thing.
No female nipple. No buttocks. No genitalia. No sexual intercourse.
So, how did this happen? Why am I being punished when I didn’t break the rules?
The short answer is trolls.
The long answer is just 18 hours before my post was removed, several fatphobic trolls launched a mass attack against my account, reporting who knows how many photos. I suspected this would happen but was not prepared for their veracity.
And instead of reviewing the content being reported, Instagram removed my photo and issued their threat.
But, it doesn’t end there.
Instagram refuses to respond to emails, dm’s, comments, and questions about this happening.
AND Instagram has chosen to further punish me by shadowbanning (“restricting”) my account. Shadowbanning is a widely disputed (and wholly denied by Instagram) act in which any hashtag used does not actually work for the person using it. Shadowbanning is an engagement killer. Shadowbanning is Instagram’s subtle way of shutting down and dismantling an account’s access to new (and current) followers.
After my post was removed, all posts following it were immediately shadowbanned, regardless of their content or the tags used. My engagement dropped to less than 2%, with only 200 – 250 of my 4000 followers seeing my posts.
Instagram is killing my account.
And there is nothing I can do about it.
But, beyond that, yesterday evening I received this terrifying message:
Maybe you’re wondering why this scares me. I will explain.
Many of us choose some form of anonymity online. Instagram is stripping us of that anonymity by displaying our country of origin without our consent and without our ability to hide it.
Additionally, any name changes we have ever made will now be visible. So, if someone started an account years ago with their legal name but for privacy reasons chose to change it, that information will now be made public going forward. And they can not stop it.
These are horrifying changes. Instagram is throwing its communities to the wolves and it absolutely does not care about the danger it is putting its users in.
This evening I have uninstalled my Instagram app. Before November 28th I will completely delete my account.
I never thought it would come to this. I gave two years of hard work to this app, building a community, paying for promoted posts when the algorithm started hiding our content from our own followers, and it’s all been for naught.
It has all led up to my account being punished because I’m fat and the privacy of every member on Instagram being ripped away from them.
Lines have to be drawn somewhere and here is where I’ve drawn mine.
I’m done with Instagram. I have loved using it. But, I’m done. Just as I deleted my FB account months ago, soon my Instagram account will be gone as well. And as sad as I am to lose so many connections I once made, there is a part of my heart that is ready to move forward.
The internet is still the Wild West but right now social media and social networks are at a pivotal point in history where they have to decide who they’re going to be: will they be the crooked bandits squeezing money from rural farmers or will they be the passionate lawmen determined to create a new version of law and order.
I believe in the very core of my being that Facebook and Instagram have gone the way of crooked outlaws, selling our private information, censoring our fat bodies, censoring and silencing BIPOC, and allowing dangerous ideologies to run rampant on their platforms because the clicks are just too precious to them and their advertisers. (Even though it turns out they’ve been outright lying about their own numbers.)
If you choose to stay on with either of these networks, I wish you all the best. But for me, it’s time to mosey on. It’s been real and it’s been fun, Instagram. But, it ain’t been real fun. So, I’m setting off into the sunset with my offensive fat rolls and my right to privacy intact.
Good luck out there, y’all. I really wish you all the best.