The photo-sharing giant started humble, but it really went downhill after being acquired by then-Facebook, now-Meta. However, that doesn’t stop it from maintaining a pretty decent userbase – even though it has a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge – oh, did I mention how huge this is? Because it’s pretty huge – problem with content thievery.
I’ve been meaning to make this post for a while now, but I just never got around to it – or, at least, when I did have time to get around to it, I had the notion giving the thieves attention for it would, in some roundabout way, give them income. But this topic came back to my mind when I recently watched Drew Gooden’s rant video on a similar topic, so I think I ought to share my thoughts here.
As a content creator, I’ve met my fair share of content thievery. Other than blatantly ripping off my original pieces of writing, there has also been times where my photography and art were taken without my permission to be included in some kind of article.
Of course, this pales in comparison to the large scale of creative content thievery on Instagram. While the plagiarism is pretty shitty, I had readers that recognize my story report the post as well as notifying me about it, which successfully got the plagiarized posts down. And the photography and art, well, they still credited me at the bottom of the image imbed, which I assume is a mandatory thing to do when writing articles, so I wasn’t that bothered about it.
Instagram thievery, however, just never credits the original creator. Sure, they might have “credits to the original creator” in the caption, but they never actually go out of their way to find who made it. In fact, even if their username is shown in the post itself, the thief doesn’t even bother writing it in the caption. Some thieves are even lazier, opting to just write “all posts belong to their respective owners” in their bio and leave it at that.
They always say to DM them for credit, and although I have never DMed a repost account, I have always been doubtful that they would. As it turns out Drew Gooden showed an instance where he did. When they do have credit, the accounts never even bother tagging the original creator. They just write the creator’s name, knowing full well most people won’t bother memorizing the name, going out of the post, navigating to the search tab, enter the username, and clicking into the original creator’s account.
Also, judging by the way some people can definitely make a living off of posting on Instagram, these content thieves are simply ripping off other folks’ creativity and profiting off of it – I’m talking about videos, drawings, animations, writing, social media posts, photography… You name it. If it’s remotely interesting, they’ll steal it and profit off of it. Hell, half the people who posted those things probably don’t even know that they can make a profit from what they did.
The worst thing about this is that, other than being absolute scum of the earth for not realizing what they’re doing is really fucking shitty, Instagram doesn’t even do anything about it. I don’t know if it’s because these accounts bring in a lot of regular users or what, but it’s making creators’ lives hell. Big creator accounts that most people recognize probably won’t take a hit, especially if their fans care enough to tag them in the comments (causing the thief to also tag them in the caption), but smaller accounts don’t get the luxury. I don’t doubt that if they were to complain to the thief, they’d just get rebuffed and the post won’t get taken down regardless of what the thief’s bio says.
In the end, it’s the principle of it. You stole something someone made, posted it without telling others where you got it from, and then you slip three ads in the post and promote some account in your story. You get paid, apparently, $5000 USD a month doing this. I don’t care if it’s a lot of money and it’s your living. You’re stealing from other people and that’s not an honest living. You’re an asshole.
But I know I’m beating a dead horse. These accounts definitely bring Instagram (Meta) a lot of money, so they probably won’t do anything about it.
Funnily enough, though, Facebook has no problem taking down your posts if it contains copyrighted music.
And although I’m not proud of it, I have posted others’ art before without consulting them first. I also never gave proper credit until my final few posts (since I knew who I took those from) as they’ve been in my library for so long that I just won’t be able to search for the original creator. I ended up putting pause on the whole posting thing and told everyone who had been liking my posts that what I was doing was wrong and I will not contribute to this pandemic of art thievery. Someone had the balls to say that they didn’t really care if I kept doing it since everyone else was doing it anyway. It hurt to know that most people don’t care if creators are stolen from because they probably just see it as a hobby and not a genuine career.
It takes time and effort to create things. If Instagram doesn’t want to do anything about these thieves, the least we can do is stop giving these fuckers attention. If you think it’s fine because everyone else is doing it, or that “you put it on the Internet so everyone has free rein over it,” then you’re part of the problem. Try and put yourself in a creator’s shoes for once. If someone else told your boss that they were the one who did your job, even though you had worked there the entire time, and your boss believed that stranger and paid them instead of you, you’d be pretty pissed too.
If creators are constantly being put out of business because others keep stealing from them, we won’t have entertainment anymore. Either because they lost hope of ever making it on their own or because they starved to death since they can’t afford to buy groceries.
Be better. Do better. All of you.