Instagram meme pages are forming a UNION to fight 'selective censorship' and lack of recognition, as they claim app profits from their work but offers 'little job security'
  • Instagram meme accounts have formed the 'IG Meme Union Local 69-420'

  • The users say Instagram profits from their work but provides little job security

  • They hope for more transparency in the appeals process, among other things

The Instagram accounts behind many of the app's viral joke posts are seizing 'the memes of production.'

Account owners are banding together to establish a new labor union - dubbed, appropriately, the 'IG Meme Union Local 69-420,' according to the Atlantic

The collective has yet to become recognized by the National Labor Relations Board, but it's taking on the role of a traditional labor union. 

The page details how the union can step in on behalf of users when Instagram takes unfair actions against an account, like deactivating or shadowbanning.

'The purpose of this union is to allow for solidarity actions when pages we love are deactivated, shadowbanned, or otherwise messed with by Instagram,' the site states. 

'All other decisions will be made by the memebership and the organizing committee.

'Currently the only requirements for memebership are filling out this form,' it continues.

A sign-up form for the union details how the collective can step in on behalf of users when Instagram takes unfair actions against an account, like deactivating or shadowbanning

Its 'memebers' argue that popular meme accounts bring in significant revenue for Instagram, yet lack any safeguards or recognition for their work.

'People are doing a lot of work, doing it for free or little compensation, or not recognized for the work they're doing,' Paul Praindo, a representative of the union's organizing committee, told the Atlantic. 

'All these people are bringing revenue to Instagram, producing this major profit margin for this company, and they're subject to really little job security.'  

The union's goal is to establish more 'protections for other content creators,' he added.  

This includes things like a more open appeal process when an account is banned, more communication lines with Instagram officials, as well as more ways to make sure their original content isn't being monetized, according to the Atlantic.

The collective has yet to become recognized by the National Labor Relations Board, but it's taking on the role of a traditional labor union. Pictured is the site where users can sign up

Praido criticized the Instagram appeals process, saying the firm will reject appeals without indicating why their request was denied.

An Instagram spokesperson told the Atlantic that it's planning to launch an option to appeal post removals. 

Meme accounts and digital creators, which can rack up millions of followers at a time, lack the job protections that come with other traditional industries.  

Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and others monetize the content uploaded to their sites via advertisements, which users don't earn any portion of, the Atlantic noted. 

The meme union could serve as an effective way for creators to take back some power from the tech giants that created the platforms they thrive on.

'If you’re spending all your time as a Twitch broadcaster or creating memes, that is work,' John Ahlquist, an associate professor at the University of San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy, told the Atlantic. 

'People that are trying to earn a living on these platforms are recognizing how vulnerable they are on an individual basis with respect to the platform, and so they’re turning to this tried-and-true model of collective action.'

Renee Worley