Social media juggernaut Instagram “hollowed out” a small Australian company after it mistakenly disabled its account, its founder claimed.
Sophie Lord, who founded the popular independent bridal magazine Hello May a decade ago, she was preparing to celebrate the publication’s 10th anniversary this week when a message from the platform left her shattered.
On Tuesday night, she received a message from Instagram that the company’s account had been “temporarily suspended” and needed to be verified.
Ms Lord claims she “followed Instagram’s instructions to the letter” – only to receive a second message on Thursday evening revealing that the account had been “permanently disabled” for breaking “community guidelines” – a move that made her ” devastated” and “desperate”. ”.
Ms Lord said Instagram was wrong, and that Hello May had never broken a single rule, leaving her “no idea” why the decision was made.
“It sent me to another form to appeal the decision if it was made in error, but I got a pop-up error when submitting that form with no further instructions on how to proceed,” an emotional Ms. Lord to news.com. ouch.
“We were recently asked by Instagram to change our password, which we did, and we use a third-party scheduling app called Sked Social, as tens of thousands of other small businesses do (who post using real devices from their Melbourne offices), but I don’t know I don’t see how any of these actions would get us booted from Instagram.
“It is incredibly frustrating and quite traumatizing to see 10 years of hard work disappear overnight. The language they use only causes stress and panic.”
She explained that Instagram was a vital resource for the independent publication, which is run by Ms Lord and a small team of five who were “incredibly passionate” about the wedding industry, and who have a “plethora of small businesses within that industry” .
“Instagram is one of the main ways we communicate with that readership,” she said.
It’s hard to put into dollars what we’ve lost. How would you rate 10 years of hard work? We had 165,000 followers, which isn’t superficial numbers to us, that’s an incredible community of real people who we’ve worked with over the past decade to build relationships.
“To see it disappear overnight has left me in utter shock.”
She said the account was deactivated Hello girl 10th anniversary on Thursday added “insult to injury”.
“Our 10th anniversary issue hit newsstands nationally and we planned a huge social media rollout to celebrate with our community — essentially a day that was meant to be celebrated has turned into heartbreak,” she said.
“We paused that rollout because we expected our account to be restored overnight, but now that hasn’t happened, we don’t know what to do.
“After two years of Covid decimating the wedding industry, this just feels like we’re being kicked down on our way back up.”
Ms Lord said she had to “start from scratch” to rebuild an Instagram following with a new backup account that “simply doesn’t have the reach that our original account has”.
“We also lost all our communication in the private messages. Why Instagram encourages us to use these in app services when they can be taken down without explanation is beyond me,” she said.
“There’s no way of knowing how this will affect revenue, but I’ll say so Hello girl a strong following on Instagram was a valuable asset to our advertising partners.
“It sounds dramatic to say, but Instagram’s current appeal and verification system for suspended accounts, especially falsely suspended accounts like ours that have done nothing wrong, is a special kind of emotional abuse.”
She said Instagram had a duty to the countless small businesses around the world who relied on the platform to reach their audiences.
“I would like to know why so many accounts worldwide were accidentally suspended by Instagram in November. I’d like to see them review their appeals process,” she said.
“If an account like ours, which has never been broken, can get a single community guideline wrongfully suspended and then completely disabled during the appeal process, something is very wrong with their system.
“We’re an industry built on love, and we just don’t understand how our account and followers can be completely wiped out when people like Donald Trump still have visible accounts on Instagram.”
As it turns out, Mrs. Lord’s nightmare isn’t an isolated one, with a similar Instagram suspension Hello May advertiser Amelie George earlier this week, while another supplier to the wedding industry, Electric Confetti, recently had the same experience.
“The fact that it happened to three companies in the Australian wedding industry in the last week – as far as I know – cannot be a coincidence,” said Ms Lord.
“For an independent publication, having spent 10 years promoting the work of the many talented small businesses that make up the Australian wedding industry is huge, and we have been absolutely stripped of 10 years of hard work building up that community. building that evaporated in less than 48 hours – with no clear explanation why.”
After further investigation after being contacted by news.com.au, Instagram was eventually reinstated Hello May’s account. But Ms Lord said she wanted to share her story with the public to “ensure that no other small business has to suffer this cruel and unusual punishment”.
News.com.au reached out to Instagram for comment.