The first time my Instagram account, @soaking_wet_angel, was disabled was in March of 2021. I, like other meme admins, make memes as well as curate and repost images I find from other places on the web. We all face the constant threat of being disabled.
Originally, two of us ran the account, but as you’ll see, it was surprisingly high-stress for something seemingly so simple. My friend is on an indefinite break from the page, but posted as “cake admin” during her tenure. I posted under “arab admin,” and that’s the pseudonym I still use on @soaking_wet_angel_2,
My accounts get disabled a lot. My posts have been described as “irreverent, chaotic and capable of bridging zoomers and millennials during nuclear war.” I think that’s a fair assessment.
The first time my account was disabled was for posting a satirical mockup of Coachella’s lineup poster that featured other meme pages instead of the usual musical acts. Different versions were posted repeatedly on Instagram and most accounts were left untouched, but mine was disabled for over a month for “solicitation.” I’m not sure what I was supposedly soliciting, but nevertheless, the account I built up to 21,000 followers in a year was inexplicably derailed and my dreams of starting a merch line were too.
Disabled accounts on Instagram are essentially in a limbo period that may never end. If your account gets disabled, you can appeal it, but oftentimes those appeals go unanswered. If Instagram decides to delete your account, you cannot get it back.
Since March, my accounts have been disabled five more times. One backup was actually deleted while I wrote this article for an innocent image of a man kissing a baby’s head. I’m not kidding. Adiòs to another 14,000 followers, I guess. No matter how many appeals I send, nothing happens. I never fully understand why my account gets disabled, but I always try to play by Instagram’s distinctly vague
My experience is not singular: A website called
If you’ve been paying attention to meme pages or other creators, you’re likely familiar with this story. Most meme pages usually have a “backup” account listed in their bio because of how often they’re targeted, and while it may seem silly to try to hold on to a follower base, don’t forget that many of the creators behind these pages are monetizing their output to some degree.
I spoke with Krister Larson, a 28-year-old tattoo artist located in Berlin, who posts memes on
Like me, he’s contacted Instagram, filed appeals, requested reviews, and heard nothing.
In August, an Instagram spokesperson spoke to
Before Larson’s @girl_storag3 account was disabled, he posted a meme that said, “I am not your bestie. I am a random meme page admin that you have never met.” It received a violation for “hate speech and bullying.” The problem, once again, lies in Instagram’s vague community guidelines. What exactly constitutes bullying and what does not? If they are not defining it, anything and everything could be included. Instagram seems to know this, based on their August announcement about abuse violations, but seemingly intentionally leaves the definition open.
Interestingly, despite Instagram’s strict and confusing violation algorithms, some meme accounts are left unscathed. One, @patiasfantasyworld, posted a meme earlier this month that said, “Potheads will find ANY REASON to smoke.. ‘Damn that bitch ugly, let me roll up.'” I posted that same meme a month ago and it was taken down for “harassment and bullying.” I even tried to appeal that violation but it was denied. However, the meme on their account remained up. An admin from @patiasfantasyworld did not respond to my requests for comment.
I also spoke with Simon Jackson who is the Montreal-based curator of
While some creators struggle financially and depend on Instagram referrals for art sales, merch, or other money-making endeavors, never forget that, as Simon pointed out, Instagram is worth
The effects of constant deletion aren’t only financial. Instagram is a social media app. Simon said, “I depend on Instagram for access to a lot of my friends, conversations, opportunities, and self-expression, making the dependence seem even more sinister… If they own our friendships, they have incredible leverage over users when they give their advertisers ready access to our data and wallets.”
Until Instagram clearly defines their community guidelines and why some users are penalized for content that others face no repercussions for, meme admins should consider exploring other applications. A mass meme exodus might be the only way to get Instagram to take note of its users long-standing grievances.