One of the biggest victims of big tech’s use of increasingly broad and vague rules that police “bullying,” “hate” and “harassment” has been independent journalism with on-the-ground reporting on conflicts or protests often taken down for supposedly violating these rules.
Today conflict journalism outlet Popular Front became yet another independent media outlet to fall foul of these rules and have its Instagram account, with more than 22,000 followers, wiped out.
Popular Front’s founder Jake Hanrahan broke the news that Popular Front’s Instagram account had been deleted on Twitter and described Instagram’s decision as ridiculous.
.@Instagram just deleted the Popular Front account without warning. We had 22,000 followers there. It was a great way to react and interact with supporters. This is riduculous. pic.twitter.com/m1hs34lcMy
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) November 5, 2019
In the months before the account was deleted, Hanrahan had highlighted several examples of Instagram flagging and removing his posts for supposed violations of its community guidelines.
One post documenting police brutality against Hong Kong protestors was deemed to be “bullying or harassment” by Instagram.
.@Instagram is censoring Popular Front. We’ve had several posts removed recently. This one today shows extreme police brutality against Hong Kong protesters. Why Instagram feels the need to censor that is very suspicious…
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) September 21, 2019
Another post featuring a mock-up image of the now-deceased ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also removed for showing “violence or dangerous organizations.”
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) August 8, 2019
Fans of Popular Front, like Hanrahan, are baffled by the decision and demanding that the account be restored.
Hey @Instagram, get this sorted.
Popular Front is one of the best independent conflict journalism organisations around. https://t.co/b5y0D6pzDy
— Gissur Simonarson 🇮🇸🏴 (@GissiSim) November 5, 2019
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) November 5, 2019
— Simon Ostrovsky (@SimonOstrovsky) November 5, 2019
WTF Is This? For what?
Instagram just banned real boots on the ground journalism https://t.co/TeARHvvVTG
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) November 5, 2019
The removal of Popular Front is reflective of other confusing takedowns of content that supposedly violated Instagram’s community guidelines in recent months. In September, Instagram removed a photo of people at a gun range for showing “violence of dangerous organizations”. Instagram also deleted an artist's “Free Hong Kong” art for “hate speech”.