Instagram permanently banned Tom Cruise lookalike Jerome LeBlanc, originally from Quebec, Canada, for “pretending to be someone.” The 33-year-old has made a career impersonating the Top Gun actor.
Over six years, LeBlanc had amassed a following on Instagram for impersonating Tom Cruise. He had over 30,000 followers, and says that losing the account affected his business.
“It was a pretty big blow for someone self-employed like me to lose an account that brought me so much business,” LeBlanc told the Daily Mail.
He was suspended for the first time in June 2021. He appealed and was reinstated, but was kicked off permanently a few weeks later.
Per Instagram's community guidelines, a user cannot create “an account to impersonate someone is against the Community Guidelines and could result in the removal of your account.”
The guidelines further state: “Don't pretend to be the real individual or brand. This includes: Speaking in the voice or portraying yourself as the individual, brand, or organization. Misrepresenting your relationship to the individual, brand, or organization.”
LeBlanc told the Daily Mail that he'd tried appealing multiple times without success.
“I tried appealing the disabling of my account – explaining I'm impersonating a fictional character, but no luck. They stated “I was pretending to be someone, and my name did not match the account.” Of course I wasn't pretending to be anyone, I was impersonating a fictional character,” he explained.
He added: “I began to appeal three times a day for weeks. Finally, I received a different response, they said I needed either a lawyer or someone on my behalf to prove my legitimacy. So I retained a lawyer.”
“After thousands of dollars lost during the process, and thousands spent on a lawyer trying to regain my account. They never even responded to my lawyer.
“It has affected my business greatly due to the fact my Instagram was mainly a San Diego base following. Which is where I live. Also, to top it off… This is all happening during a pandemic where we need to maintain a physical distance.”
After getting kicked off Instagram, he turned to TikTok and Cameo. On TikTok, he has more than 500,000 followers. Still, he is disappointed that he was kicked off Instagram.
“My career was mainly ‘meet and greets' and appearances, and because of this platform I survived the entire pandemic creating videos for people and never receiving unemployment,” he said.
“I'm extremely disappointed that a platform so huge wouldn't have a customer service system with real people responding.”