The IG Meme Union Local 69-420 is pretty damned lulzy, but the organizers are dead serious about creating a union that will negotiate on behalf of memers with Instagram and other tech platforms that exploit them by alienating their labor.
Though the union won't qualify under National Labor Review Board standards, it can still unite its members for collective action against companies that screw them over, just as the Freelancers Union does — and as Paul Praindo, a spokesperson on the organizing committee says, "We stand in firm support of others who are working to organize anti-labor industries. We think these movements mark the beginning of a labor renaissance."
It may sound like a joke, but the IG Meme Union is seeking to organize a group of underpaid, precarious workers skilled in easy-to-understand, spreadable public communications who have hundreds of thousands, or even millions of followers.
A few things the IG Meme Union wants: a more open and transparent appeals process for account bans; a direct line of support with Instagram, or a dedicated liaison to the meme community; and a better way to ensure that original content isn't monetized by someone else. "Having a public and clear appeal process is a big thing," Praindo said. "People appeal now and get turned down, and they won't know why." (In a statement, an Instagram spokesperson said, "Each week we review millions of reports and there are times when we make mistakes." She also said the company would soon be rolling out an option to appeal post removals.)
So far, the union's message has been well received by the broader meme community. Administrators for accounts with millions of followers said they support the group's efforts and would stand in solidarity with them. "I think the union is a good thing. There should be something like this," said Sonny5ideUp, a memer with more than 1 million followers on Instagram. Jackson Weimer, a writer for Meme Insider who has also created several successful Instagram meme pages, said he thinks the union is a "good idea" and a necessary way to get Instagram to finally take memers seriously.
Instagram Memers Are Unionizing [Taylor Lorenz/The Atlantic]