After facing massive backlash for deactivating several popular meme accounts, Instagram is trying to smooth things over by hiring a meme liaison who’s in touch with youth culture.
The company announced the position on Tuesday, the Atlantic reports, to appease users after purging 142 meme accounts in late July. The “strategic-partnerships manager” would specifically work with meme accounts and “digital publishers” — media companies like @TheShadeRoom and @Betches that primarily work through social media. The liaison would “identify important new formats and trends while also serving memes already on the platform,” according to the Atlantic, working under Instagram’s partnership division.
Essentially, they’re hiring someone who knows memes, understands memes, and can work with memes.
Still, the people who run wildly popular meme accounts — and who tend to be younger — are wary, especially after losing millions of followers thanks to Instagram’s deactivation purge. Lewis Weed told the Atlantic that he wanted a liaison to directly contact at Instagram, instead of “blowing us off and ignoring us.” Like many users, when the 16-year-old’s account was wiped, he had no way of contacting the company. In response to the recent wave of purging, 11 different Change.org petitions were created to reinstate deactivated accounts.
“Every email or notification from Instagram support is bland and vague, explaining that the details aren’t to be disclosed, but we want answers,” the creator of the petition “Bring Back Our Meme Accounts and Have Instagram Fix Their App,” said. “We want change. And most importantly, we want our accounts back.”
Instagram’s parent company also began taking meme communities more seriously this year. In April, Facebook redesigned its desktop site and app to focus more on its groups’ feature. For many young people, private meme groups are the only feature keeping users from ditching the social media platform entirely.
Lila King, Instagram’s head of news and publishing partnerships, says she wants to hire someone who’s “equally fluent in the language of memes and the business of digital publishing.” She calls that person “a unicorn.”
Rowan Winch, a 15-year-old whose monetized Instagram account @Zuccccccccccc was abruptly taken down without any explanation except “attempted abuse of our [Instagram’s] internal processes,” just wants to see a liaison in the 18-25 range. He told the Atlantic that this person should be “involved with the internet/meme community.”
King agreed that someone with roots in the community would be ideal.
“It will be so important for a person in this role to connect more deeply with the teen accounts and other accounts we’re not aware of,” she said.