When Instagram doesnt let you Instagram
This happened with me during the JNU Violence on 5th January 2020 when I was trying to share my opinion about the incident on Instagram stories. I wrote some long text about the incident in multiple stories and then shared it with the hashtags and location. After some time some people took a screenshot of it and shared on their story by tagging me, so I re-shared them. Simultaneously I was writing comments on the posts that came on my feed about the topic.
It was after an hour or two, when I was trying to post another story from my account, it got stuck. So I could just see that this particular story was 'posting' since last 20 minutes. At the same time, I couldn't comment on anyone's post and now I was just a spectator on the platform.
I couldn't switch to my another account because this story was still 'posting' and I tried to report this problem but obviously it takes days for Instagram to reply on each complaint.
I read about it on the internet and Instagram puts temporary ban on your account on posting for the next 24-48 hours.
The period depends on the number of times your account has been temporarily banned before.
This happens because of multiple reasons
1. You have too much activity running on your account in the short span of time. There is no direct rule mentioned on the Instagram website about this but some third party research says when you put out more than 50 comments in an hour with a generic text, it can impose the ban automatically. Another example, if you are copy pasting a particular message and sending it to multiple accounts in their DM, you can see after a point that Instagram doesn't allow you to do that.
Again, there is no specific number as to after what number of DMs/ comments this can happen, but it's better to avoid doing this. It necessarily does not even check the content of these comments, I wasn't trying to spread hate speech, if I upload multiple appreciation stories in a short span, it can happen too. This is stupid but this is how it is, and we agreed to their terms and conditions while creating the account.
2. Some people report your account or a particular post. I don't see this often these days but sometimes people get mad at some account and they ask all their followers to report XYZ account. Today, it doesn't matter if only 1 person reports an account or 100 people report that account because after Instagram was acquired by Facebook, this is checked manually by the Facebook Moderators and if it violates any of the community guidelines only then the account is suspended or temporarily banned. But the job that Facebook moderators do is emotionally very destructive, imagine you are made to sit in front of a desktop and you have to watch hate posts constantly to check if they violate the policy or not. Here is article by Verge that you can read to get context
To get more context about this whole thing you could watch this series on Netflix 'The Great Hack' and there is also an article we wrote about it long back which you can read on the below link
Now after that incident, I uninstalled the app and installed it again, I knew I won't be able to post anything yet but at least I could switch between accounts now.
But this happened with me again when the Kunal Kamra and Arnab Goswami flight incident happened, these stories are still there on my account as a highlight which you can check here @pawan_rochwani
The same thing once again, after multiple story uploads I couldn't post for a while and one of the story upload got stuck. This wasn't even hate or any abusive language but still I was banned.
This time I read more about Instagram guidelines and the way to cheat in this is pretty simple.
These temporary bans are automatically detected by the hashtags that you use, the location that you use, the text that you type or even to certain extent through facial recognition.
Now the way to cheat the system is talk about Delhi incident but don't use the hashtag or location related to that, create your own unique hashtag. Do not name the people in your text, everything you type in your DM or in comments or in caption is being monitored. I have a conspiracy that because now WhatsApp is also owned by the same company, based on your WhatsApp chats, it can impose ban on your Facebook and Instagram account. That is why I don't use the names of politicians in my stories/captions and if you want to have real secure conversation with your friends download Signal app.
But I am pretty sure if I get banned again this would be my third time and it will be for a long duration. In order to express my opinion freely I started my own newsletter where I have the control over what I want to write and share. Having your own website or your own newsletter is probably the best way to have full control over your expression.
Now why I decided to write about this is because Tejas Gambhir, the guy who has been the talk of the internet in the last 48 hours for his #CoronaVirus song, his activity is restricted on Instagram. Now imagine Vidya Balan is posting about you, Raghu Dixit is posting about you, the whole internet is posting about you and you cannot comment 'Thank you' on their post. In fact after we wrote an article about him yesterday and shared his video on our page, news channels started writing about him and he was on the TV for his song. But his activity is still restricted on Instagram, he cannot comment on any posts still.
Instagram and all these social media platforms are weird with their policies.
Now what can be done in order to get rid of all this?
This is something that I tell to all the artists that I meet "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"
It is time to create your own website, have full control over your content and your audience. Data surpassed oil and you should have control over your data entirely. It is so easy to create a website these days, it's like drag and drop options on Wix, SquareSpace, Shopify, GoDaddy and numerous other sites.
I am not saying don't use social media, of course do that, in fact be on every platform that you can possibly, Quora, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and everything else that is available for free, use all these platforms to bring traffic to your website.
Now that we all are social distancing, it is the best time to build your strong digital presence.
We as a community of artists strongly believe in Co-Creation and Collaboration, these are the two values that we want to focus prominently for 2020.
We also have a podcast 'When We Met where we speak to artists and creative entrepreneurs, listen to it on Spotify/ Google Podcast or Apple Podcast or any other podcast app that you use.
For any suggestions or ideas that you want to share, write to Pawan Rochwani on firstname.lastname@example.org