this one's not a great essay — sorry.

Nudity and extortion on Instagram. And pandemic brain

Hi — it’s been a minute.

I’ve been super busy, and terribly indisciplined about writing, but I really want to write again.

So I’ve decided that, instead of trying to tease out a great and mighty essay, I’ll write short bursts on things that I’m thinking about. Think of this as an extended tweetstorm. Let’s get straight into it.

Nudity and Extortion on Instagram

Julia Rose is an adult influencer. She runs a media company called ShagMag — “Playboy’s hotter sister”.

On March 31st, she posted a thread on Twitter starting with this tweet:

If you’re at all interested in the creator economy (🙄), you should read the thread in full.

The TL;DR is that Instagram took down her personal (5.2M) and business (700k) accounts for breaking their guidelines around nudity. She’s alleging that they give larger brand names a pass even though they often post pictures that are “more nude” than hers (she specifically calls out Playboy).

But that’s not the most interesting bit. This is:

She then alleges that a supervisor at Facebook offered to restore her accounts in exchange for a $62,500 one-time payment, as well as 2.5% of her company. She also alleges that someone at Facebook was paid to take her account down.

My thoughts

There are way too many threads to pull on here, so I’m not going to try.

Jack Ma once said something to the effect of, “the team charged with setting and enforcing the rules on Taobao were essentially setting up a country, and had enormous responsibility and power”. I can’t remember where I saw that but it’s stuck with me.

Internet platforms are pretty central to multiple sectors of the economy now. Heck, they have their own economies (what do you think the creator economy is?) In this paradigm, it’s interesting to think about platform governance:

  • How do we ensure platform governance is not a black box?

  • How can we ensure these platforms continue to function in the spirit of fairness, justice and opportunity for all?

  • Who’s making decisions — not just on the rules, but how the rules are applied?

On some level, reading this reminded me of the Ann Herbert story. The Nike exec resigned after it was revealed that her son was using her corporate card to run a massive shoe resale operation.

Preventing the abuse of access for personal profit is a problem both governments and corporations have to solve for. For many people, the person that can de-monetize or suspend your account has more impact in your life than any government official, as it seems to be case for Ms. Rose.

We don’t know if her allegations are true. If they are, we have a real problem in one of the most important corners of the creator economy. I honestly hope Instagram clears this up soon.

More importantly, I hope that we start to think deeper about the questions I posted earlier — and put the platform in a position where her allegations can’t be true.

Reading…

This one from the Atlantic hit home.

Everywhere I turn, the fog of forgetting has crept in. A friend of mine recently confessed that the morning routine he’d comfortably maintained for a decade—wake up before 7, shower, dress, get on the subway—now feels unimaginable on a literal level: He cannot put himself back there. Another has forgotten how to tie a tie.

I have so many things to say about this, but I promised myself this would be short. Remind me to write about Pandemic Brain and Conspiracy Theories.

I wanted to write about BitClout…

…but I’m leaving that for later. But should follow me on there, at least until I can figure out what it’s for exactly. I’m @seyitaylor.


Have a lovely day, and enjoy this lo-fi cover of Frank Ocean’s “Self Control”.

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