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a very flimsy manifesto

Creative freedom is one of the only silver linings​​ of this flaming online hell we all exist within. When facing the doom and gloom of the world, saturated with endless horrifying media we consume at lightning speed, meme culture has flourished as a way to bring light to, critique, mock, and find solace in this cacophonous, nonsensical place. If not to fuel some great change in the world, making, posting, and enjoying memes is simply a catharsis; pouring one's thoughts and feelings into a void—where people may listen and people may not. The freedom to express oneself and reflect upon culture and politics through text and image on Instagram seems like a dignified right to have when signing off your data and soul to Mark Zuckerberg. With increasingly more stringent rules and tighter algorithms, creators, memers, and satirists are censored more than ever. It seems futile to try to reverse these efforts, as political pressure on Zuckerberg’s empire increases to combat fake news, hate speech, and content that is harmful to minors. It seems that the majority of the people affected by these regulations on Instagram aren’t extremists nor gullible insular troglodytes believing anything they see online—they’re mostly just young people being funny. As the algorithms tighten it’s independent creators who suffer. Many memers and artists, including myself, have faced the Instagram slaughterhouse, placed in limbo unable to know if they’ll ever get their accounts back. These harsher measures create major threats to free speech and are detrimental to creators, many of whom pay their bills by monetizing the apps. 


Is there a solution?


It’s hard to say.


It seems futile, as creators have organized resistance before to no avail. In 2016 a group of 175 content creators with over 20 million followers and likes on Facebook boycotted the app, creating a meme blackout cleverly titled ‘Zuxit’ in hopes to “to expose and make transparent the reporting and deletion process on the world’s largest social network, and show how it contributes to the censorship methods of the future.” In 2019 @UnionizedMemes emerged on Instagram, with a list of demands including “a more open and transparent appeals process for account bans; a direct line of support with Instagram, or a dedicated liaison to the meme community; and a better way to ensure that original content isn’t monetized by someone else.” I’m not sure there’s a feasible way to organize the swarm of irony poisoned memers in this milieu into something meaningful. It’s hard to take any of this seriously when you’re fighting for the right to post Pepe the frog with a gun and say men need to go to therapy. Besides, Instagram can’t just stop moderating content—most would agree it’s a good thing to keep predators and white supremacists off the platform. It’s the general incompetence of these algorithms that make it so detrimental to online creators. The only thing I can think of to alleviate this problem would be an actual competent customer support team to help users when their accounts are compromised, and decide if content is actually harmful with a bit more nuance than an algorithm has. It’s not as if Zuckerberg doesn’t have the funds to support a real team like this. As a tech conglomerate with the sole purpose of increasing profit, it may be impossible to see a space where creatives can post freely. Until then I’ve provided some information about how exactly these algorithms work drawn from leaked Facebook documents and through my own run-ins with them. I’ve also provided some tips and tricks to beat the algorithms so you don’t get deplatormed.


At least at the end of the day my fellow terminally online, brain-rotted poets and shitposters and I can take the piss out of Mark Zuckerberg together.

 

A collection of memes about Zuckerberg and the algorithms