Medium accused of censorship after deleting post from striking Instacart Shoppers

Medium complied with Instacart's takedown request.


The blogging platform Medium is far from the perfect blogging medium, and while it's not that much more of an effort to just start your own blog, it's often the place where people and brands go to host a post that they want the world to see.

But the centralized nature of the platform makes it vulnerable in many ways – especially when it comes to censorship. That's what Instacart Shoppers found themselves up against when they wanted to spread the word about working for Instacart and about their recent pay cuts. Their post was soon deleted by Medium after complaints from Instacart.

Instacart Shoppers are the workers who collect items at stores and deliver them to customers who order them and are considered to be contractors. On November 3rd, they went on strike. 

“We are demanding that Instacart restore the default tip amount to at least 10% and to remove the confusing “service fee” which the company pockets for themselves,” wrote Vanessa Bain, an Instacart Shopper. “We did not arrive at the 10% figure arbitrarily, rather this is what the default tip amount was back when I and many others started working for Instacart. We are simply demanding the restoration of what was originally promised.”

When Bain started working for Instacart, the default tip was set at 10% which Bain and others considered fair – as, according to Bain, 80% of customers gave a tip of 10% or more. However, in October of that year, Instacart introduced a “service fee” of 10% on every order – one that went direct to Instacart and none of which went to Shoppers. The option for tipping was removed.

Responding to the backlash, “Instacart returned the tip option, with a catch — the “service fee” would remain, defaulting at 10% of the order cost, and the tip would default at zero,” Bain said.

Over the years, several new changes resulted in some Instacart Shoppers earning as little as a dollar per hour.

Bain says that her weekly income for a 40 to 45-hour workweek dropped from $1,500 to “only a couple hundred dollars,” all as a result of the changes in tipping and formulas.

After going on strike a week ago, Instacart told Shoppers that one of the final remaining pay perks they had left, the quality bonus, would be discontinued. For some orders, this could mean a pay cut of as much as 40%.

Instacart Workers saw this as a retaliatory move against them and punishment for going on strike. They wrote a post on Medium, calling on developers and other employees who are fully employed by Instacart to speak out against leadership in favor of the contractor workers.

“Would you, sitting in the office, simply watch this unfold, knowing the product of your labor is being used as a boot on the face of others in your community? Would you feel proud watching the company that signs your paycheck spitefully hurt people just like you?” the post asks.

However, the post on Medium contained various names of Instacart employees, and – for that reason – Instacart saw it as reason enough to flag the article to Medium. 

Medium complied and deleted it.

In an update, Instacart Workers said: “Instacart has flagged our post in an effort to silence us. We are not going to let that happen. We are reposting without addressing individuals. They’re doing anything they possibly can to prevent us from speaking out and being heard.”

Several Twitter users are expressing their concern over what they consider to be an act of censorship from Medium.


Cindy Harper

Cindy Harper is a tech news staff writer based in Maryland, USA. After getting her start in local journalism, Cindy now reports mostly on social media stories for Reclaim. [email protected]