The most famous Justin on Instagram is no longer named Bieber. The Canadian pop singer appears to have deleted his account following incidents of harassment and bickering with fans. Millions of Beliebers anticipating photos of his latest beach vacation, backstage guest or shopping trip are now warned “Sorry, this page isn’t available.”
The Biebs didn’t just lock his account (which would make it available only to the people he has also followed), he deleted it. This deployment of the nuclear option marks the latest example of a celebrity breaking up with a social network that previously acted as a useful tool for fan interaction.
How could the 22-year-old pride of Stratford, Ont., do this to the 77.8 million followers he had accumulated on the photo-based social network? What appears to have happened was an uproar by “stans” – the portmanteau of “stalker” and “fan” that has come to define social-media users who post primarily about an object of their obsession – who disapprove of his new girlfriend, 17-year-old Sofia Richie (daughter of singer Lionel).
The trouble started in the last few weeks while Bieber was on tour. He began posting pics of the two hanging out doing couply things in Japan, and his stans responded by suggesting Richie kill herself, among other unmentionably extreme messages.
“I’m gonna make my Instagram private if you guys don’t stop the hate this is getting out of hand,” Bieber declared on his account. “If you guys are really fans you wouldn’t be so mean to people like that.” Late on Monday, he made good on his threat.
(It probably didn’t help that his high-profile ex Selena Gomez – who has 95 million Instagram followers – left comments on the post suggested that a) he didn’t value his fans and b) he was a cheater. She later deleted her comments.)
The relationship that obsessive teens – now wondering if it’s too late to say sorry – form with their heroes is always fraught, but what Bieber’s case shows is that social-media companies are also still failing to get the balance right between allowing free and open communication among users without letting it degenerate into a rage-filled pile-on.
Twitter has earned a reputation for coarseness: there are several high-profile examples of celebrities, journalists and others (mainly women) quitting the network because it hasn’t done enough to stamp out harassment. Examples include Leslie Jones of Saturday Night Live, who received a barrage of racist hate for her role in the Ghostbusters reboot, and New York Times editor Jon Weisman, who suffered a barrage of anti-Semitic attacks.
Just this week, U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas shared her frustration with attacks that have dogged her since she won gold in London four years ago. “When they talk about my hair or not putting my hand over my heart or being very salty in the stands, really criticizing me… for me it was really hurtful,” she told the Associated Press.
It’s not a new thing, and not new to Twitter. Back in 2014, Zelda Williams quit after she was harassed about her recently deceased father, beloved funnyman Robin Williams. Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said “We suck at dealing with abuse” as far back as February, 2015.
More recently, trollish behaviour is taking its toll on Instagram stars, too. A few weeks ago, newly minted Star Wars star Daisy Ridley shuttered her Instagram and Twitter accounts after she was attacked for posting an anti-gun message (she later wrote that she just wanted to be on her phone less).
Twitter is now 10 years old, with 313 million users; the Facebook-owned Instagram is younger, at five years old, but also bigger and faster-growing (500 million users, 8.5 million in Canada). Both suffer from the same problem – a reluctance to moderate content aimed at users with large followings and a basic bias to let users say whatever awful thing they want.
In Twitter’s case, it’s not for lack of ability. A recent BuzzFeed investigation about the platform’s struggles with abuse included an extraordinary detail: the company previously used algorithmic pre-moderation of troll accounts, as well as a team of human moderators, to stop a live Q&A with U.S. President Barack Obama from turning into a racist tire fire – a plan that was kept secret even from some members of the Twitter product team. But it still has no plans to make such a feature available to regular users.
Instagram’s community standards documentation, on the other hand, says that talk that might get a user banned when aimed at a regular person — which includes “credible threats or hate speech … personal information meant to harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages” — is fair game if directed at a celebrity.
“We do generally allow stronger conversation around people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience due to their profession or chosen activities,” it reads. Basically, public personalities are asking for it.
In July, Instagram rolled out a “comment moderation” feature for all users, which is based on filtering posts with keywords that are “reported as offensive,” an opt-in feature that should help the company stop clearly racist, sexist and hateful language. It’s also testing a feature with select celebrities that would help them ban customized words, which is useful given that keyword filters often become a cat-and-mouse game, with determined harassers finding new ways to say cruel things.
Another feature the company is testing, according to a spokesperson, is a way to simply turn comments off on publicly available Instagram posts. That kind of simple comment-limiting step has been available to newspapers and other online publishers for more than a decade, but is still not available to the average Instagram user. Richie appears to be part of the test group for that system; she still has a public account with pictures of her with Bieber, including one with 195,000 likes but no comments. Further down her feed, the stans have begun to post hundreds of comments on unrelated photos that blame her for Bieber’s move, posts that also frequently contain snake and poop emojis.
But this solution, and those Twitter has made widely available, have one thing in common: They still require the average user to do most of the work of manually deleting unwanted comments and blocking or reporting unwanted posters. The only real solutions for individuals who are overwhelmed is to go private (which would dramatically limit celebrity connections with fans) or, like the Biebs, delete their accounts entirely.
Famous people aren’t the only reason people join social media, but it’s pretty bad marketing when your most influential users tell their fans “this platform is not for me.” On the bright side, Bieber fans missing more than just his body on Instagram may note that there’s another Canadian Justin prone to taking his shirt off. One Mr. Trudeau, a politician of some sort, is now in sole possession of the top “Justin” related search result.
source : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/celebrity-news/biebers-instagram-deletion-reflects-social-medias-harassment-problem/article31438615/?cmpid=rss1