Instagram is cracking down on meme pages that go private as a growth hack

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said it's "just not a great experience."

Meme accounts that go private on Instagram as a way to gain more followers could soon be in trouble. The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, touched on the subject today during a Live Q&A session on the app — where he also talked about new features like Co-Watching and his team's efforts to fight COVID-19 misinformation.

At one point or another, chances are you've had a friend send you a link to a meme on Instagram but you can't see it because you don't follow the account that posted it. Some of the biggest meme pages have taken to this strategy to increase their audience — the idea is that since their posts aren't public, more people will follow them to get in on the jokes — which Mosseri said is "just not a great experience."

A private meme page with nearly 100,000 followers.Edgar Alvarez / Input

The great growth hack — "Meme pages are great. People who love meme pages should be able to connect with meme pages and those who don't, don't need to, shouldn't have to," he said. "There is a thing, though, where a subset of large of accounts, meme pages and otherwise, go private and they go private essentially as a growth hack." Mosseri added that, while he doesn't know what Instagram will do about this issue "yet," it has "risen to the level of concern that we're trying to figure out how to adjust it."

Mosseri said he's been telling meme page account owners he knows that Instagram is looking into this, as he wants to give them a heads-up that the company is trying to figure out a way to make them move away from that growth hack model. "Private should be if you wanna be a private individual and you wanna really keep your information [and] what you share on Instagram limited to a small set of people," he said. "If you have a million followers or hundreds of thousands of followers, that doesn't really make sense."


Politicians and their fake news — During the same Q&A on Instagram, Mosseri answered a question from this Input reporter about how the app plans to handle politicians who spread misinformation about the novel coronavirus. "The thing I need everyone to understand is that any misinformation related to COVID-19 that creates risk of real-world harm — we've seen things like 'drink bleack if you feel any of the symptoms' — we will take off Instagram," he said, "whether or not it's from a politician, no matter who it's from."

Mosseri said this is the case not only for Instagram, but also its parent company Facebook. "We actually work very closely in conjunction with Facebook on misinformation as a problem," he noted. "We share as much as we can so we can hopefully keep more people safe." As part of these ongoing efforts, earlier today Instagram revealed it would start rolling out new tools to promote accurate information and prevent fake news around COVID-19, which is going to be a primary focus for the company as the current global pandemic unfolds.