Taken at face value, memes are an innocent, day-brightening moment of hilarity, but behind the scenes, there are vast financial complications. Instagram recently decided to disable more than 140 accounts that were capitalizing on this market by organizing memes from across the internet into one place.

“These accounts were disabled following violations of our policies, including attempted abuse of our internal processes,” a spokesperson for Instagram told The Atlantic; however, users like 15-year-old Rowan Winch, whose accounts were disabled, claim they did no such thing. Winch ran the popular meme account @Zuccccccccccc which boasted more than 1.2 million followers.

In response to backlash about the mass deletions, Instagram is deciding to hire a strategic-partnerships manager, tasked with handling meme accounts. 

The crux of the issues lies in the fact that these accounts are mostly earning their advertising money by reposting the content of other users from sites like Twitter, Reddit or TikTok and very rarely crediting the original source. Lila King, Instagram’s head of news and publishing partnerships, made sure not to diminish the role of these reposting pages when speaking with the Atlantic saying, “Curation is a kind of creation. Within the right bounds, there can be a lot of value in finding gems and sharing them.” 

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