SanDiegoVille's Instagram Account Has Been Deactivated Due To Sharing Innocuous Memes

July 26, 2022

After nearly a decade on the platform, the SanDiegoVille Instagram account has been deactivated over an innocuous meme posted on our story.  

In March 2020, during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, SanDiegoVille transitioned their 24-hour time limited, disappearing Instagram story to become a daily reel of funny and observant memes, hoping to bring humor to followers in a trying time when there was little as far as restaurant and local event news. As the pandemic progressed, the memes became a popular aspect of the page, resulting in a constant barrage of humorous posts on SanDiegoVille's Instagram account, which doubled to over 40,000 followers over the two year time period. 

This past December 2021, the SanDiegoVille Instagram account reposted the above Spider-Man meme to its story, which was originally shared by LA Lakers superstar Lebron James. At the time, the SanDiegoVille founders were both dealing with an illness that they were unable to tell whether it was COVID-19, a cold, or the flu, so it was meant to be taken quite literally. The post was immediately flagged and taken down on SanDiegoVille's account, although it remains on Lebron James' page to this day. 

SanDiegoVille's account was subsequently "shadow banned", resulting in it appearing on far less of its followers' accounts. Tagging of the @sandiegoville page was also forbidden, which results in greatly limiting growth of the account. Any time a follower tried to tag the SanDiegoVille account, a notice came up that read: "sandiegoville can't be tagged because they have repeatedly posted content that goes against Community Guidelines on false content about COVID-19 or vaccines", which was defamatory and entirely untrue. This "shadow ban" resulted in more innocuous posts being flagged and lasted throughout 2022. There was no ability to challenge it, nor any indication by Instagram or its parent Meta company (formerly Facebook) that the ban was in place. The only reason we found out about the ban was from many followers sending screenshots of the "Can't tag" notification (see above). 

Yesterday morning, as a joke aimed as a response to The New York Times article entitled "A Taste for Cannibalism?", SanDiegoVille posted the above Jeffrey Dahmer meme. The post was nearly instantly flagged and SanDiegoVille's account was thereafter suspended. We immediately challenged the suspension and were alerted within the promised 24 hours that our account has been permanently disabled. We have since filed all possible appeals via online forms, including submitting proof of identity and business operation, chatted with several business account representatives from Meta, and are still awaiting any form of response from Instagram. A simple search of #Dahmer on Instagram will show that there are many similar memes remaining on the platform without issue.

Following the deactivation of our original account, SanDiegoVille has launched a backup account @SanDiegoVille1984. We are currently awaiting a response to our appeal with Instagram and have been in contact with our attorney about potentially filing a lawsuit if the ban is not lifted. There is no way to contact anyone at Meta, Facebook or Instagram to get an update on the status of our appeal.