The Girls Of Instagram - What Happened?
Friday, October 17, 2014
So I woke up this morning to a text message. Popular nine year old, Florida surfer/skater, Zoe Benedetto's instagram was GONE it said. Gone, as in deleted as if it never existed. No warning, no notification, no "nothing" according to her mom. Just a "user not found" on the screen where post after post of her surfing & skating photos & videos once were. Zoe competes up and down the Florida coast and is a top ranked amateur surfer. Now Zoe was gone, and so were her photos, videos and 4,000+ followers. All of her friends and her major sponsors, like Billabong and Go Pro (and us here at GN4LW!) were left in the dark wondering "what just happened?"
Then we received a text from Jason who runs The Pink Helmet Posse in California - well known eight year old skaters Bella Kenworthy with 2,000+ follwers & Sierra Kerr at 10,000+ followers, also gone from instagram. The Pink Helmet Posse had recently been featured in Sports Illustrated Kids Magazine, had their documentary movie premier at the New York Film Festival to rave reviews, and now 2 out of 3 of the core team were deleted from instagram . Why??
Then the calls & texts came fast and furious. It wasn't just these 3 exceptional pint sized female athletes that were deleted. Nope, there were more.
Sabre Norris, age nine who was featured in the new Kid Mac video, and was the first Australian girl to do a 540 on a vert ramp, was missing from instagram. Like the other girls, Sabre had 12,000+ followers. She also has over 1,230,000+ hits on her Youtube video of her 540 posted by The Berrics.
Minna Stess age eight from Northern California, also had her account deleted today. Minna had 4,010 followers as of last night before she went to bed. You might remember Minna from the video of her dropping in on the 28 foot high mega ramp at Woodward this past summer. The girl is incredible! She has been busy at the skate park practicing hard & preparing her "A" game to compete in Exposure Skate - an all girl skate contest being held in San Diego in November. This unwanted distraction was not something she or her parents needed.
Last but not least at the time of this posting, was little Quincy Symonds age six, also known in surf and skate circles across the world as The Flying Squirrel. Quincy had just been featured on a TV show about how she has overcome tough medical odds to become an amazing surfer and skater. Her followers also numbered in the thousands.
You may be thinking, "it's only social media, who really cares"?? Well, a lot of people do apparently. It is the talk of the action sports community, and it should be. These young athletes work hard to be the top tier in their respective sports. They are also all under the age of 10 and have multiple sponsors that they post for and those same sponsors share their posts. But more importantly they are all positive role models for girls of all ages. These girls are not showing skin or talking about boys and posting risque photos - they are surfing and skateboarding and making strides in the action sports community like no other generation has done previously.
If Instagram took their profiles down with out notifying them or their parents (all the accounts above are run/monitored by the parents) it was a major disservice to all young girls out there. It also left a lot of people in the dark as to what instagram's policy's really are.
New updated info as of 10/19 - Some parents saw the account was deleted - then tried to "sign" in - when they did they received a screen that came up saying you must verify your age to be over 13 - since the parents ran these accounts (and said so in bio) they sent in their info. No word yet on action instagram is taking to reinstate accounts or not.
New info as of 10/18 : * Or was it hackers as people have speculated? If so, it would be great for instagram to publicly address the issue.
* Is it because they are under 13? If so, why wasn't a notification sent before deleting double checking their ages? (some did get this , some did not)
* Was it someone who clicked that dreaded "report to instagram" button and employees at Instagram noticed no pattern with the reports and just hit delete?
* Why were these kids singled out and why specifically skaters and surfers?
New info as of 10/18: * We have now heard that there are some boys who were deleted as well, and other athletes whose pages are "locked" pending verification from instagram, but when parents responded with answers, nothing happened to "unlock" the page.
* And last but not least, why is instagram so hard to get hold of? Online forms were filled out and Instagram was contacted by all these girls parents - and has yet to respond.
When you have girls out there like Zoe, Bella, Sierra, Minna, Quincy & Sabre that are such positive role models for other young girls, this whole thing just doesn't make much sense.
We'd appreciate you all sharing this post, & talking about this topic on social media. Hopefully by working together, we can get instagram to respond, find out what happened, & get these girls accounts back.