Published via Know Your Meme on April 17, 2017 by Matt Schimkowitz.
Instagram Meme Union is a web-based collective created for the protection and organization of memers and content creators on Instagram. The Union aims to push back on platforms like Instagram when meme accounts are believed to be unfairly targeted, censored or deactivated.
On April 10th, 2019, the Instagram account @unionizedmemes posted a series of images that called for the creation of a union. These images included popular formats and meme characters, such as Shrek (shown below, left). They also posted an image that showcased their intentions. It reads, "The IG Meme Union is an effort to foster solidarity among memers. This is an attempt to break cycles of realization and selective censorship by Instagram. These actions on the part of IG potentially put the livelihoods and careers of meme lords at risk, while profiting off of the labor of said clout queens n kings." The post received more than 120 likes (shown below, right).
Shortly after the group launched, the Union posted a "memebership" application. They wrote, "The purpose of this union is to allow for solidarity actions when pages we love are deactivated, shadowbanned, or otherwise messed with by Instagram. All other decisions will be made by the memebership and the organizing committee. Currently the only requirements for memebership are filling out this form."
On April 17th, 2019, The Atlantic published a report on the Meme Union. In the article, a representative for the organization, Paul Paul Praindo said, "We’re calling it a union and doing union-organizing tactics. We stand in firm support of others who are working to organize anti-labor industries. We think these movements mark the beginning of a labor renaissance."
Even if you’re producing funny pictures of Shrek, that should not determine whether you’re taken seriously as a creator or your livelihood is imperiled at the drop of a hat … We are a meme union; the whole point of it is to work for protections for other content creators.
In the article, author Taylor Lorenz spoke with other memers about the Union, including Instagram's @Sonny5ideUp, who appreciated the effort. As did University of San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy associate professor John Ahlquist. He sad, "If you’re spending all your time as a Twitch broadcaster or creating memes, that is work. 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."