Fair warning friends – grab your coffee and settle in for a long blog post today…

Instagram Copycat

Since launching Style Charade, I’ve never posted a negative topic on this blog. I always want this site to be viewed as a source of fun, positivity, and happiness. It’s also designed to encourage, inspire, surprise, and delight you. Therefore, I assure you the situation is really bad if I’m posting about it now. Please know I am speaking my truth, from the heart and, above all, based on facts.

Last weekend, I posted on Instagram Stories about a situation that I’ve been dealing with for more than three years. The response was overwhelming; endless messages filling my (DM) inbox from people all over the world. Many of whom have noticed or who have experienced something similar. It was heartbreaking yet a reminder of how lucky we are to have the Instagram community. For all the highs and lows of Instagram – the annoying algorithm, the mean comments, the way it changes people for the good (and for the really bad) – the feedback and messages reminded me that it’s all worth it.

To sum up the problem, someone has been using my Instagram account as a template for their own. This person has systematically copied my channel, captions, location concepts, and personal style for more than three years. I’m not talking about just a dress, a pose, a wall, etc. (although there’s that too). It’s about ongoing examples of copying (exact looks, images, and ideas). As a result, I’ve taken immense steps to try and evolve the look and feel of my Instagram account to further differentiate myself and push the creative boundaries. Every time I pivot into new territory, the individual does the same soon thereafter.

For those who know me well, sharing the details of this terrible situation is incredibly hard. I’m not one to open up and be vulnerable, especially when it comes to talking poorly about someone else. I’m far from perfect, and I believe when you say something bad about another person, it:

  1. Creates bad karma AND
  2. Makes you look just as bad as them

Trust me, I do not take sharing the situation with you lightly. It’s taken me almost three years to say anything online. However, after a lot of thought and continued copying from this person, I’ve had enough.

Listen, I know there are bigger issues to focus on. Instagram is just a social media channel, and we need to hone our energies on the world’s problems – politics, healthcare, tax reform, #MeToo, the list goes on and on. For all these reasons and more, it’s taken me this long to address the issue. It feels ridiculous with everything going on around the globe!

Why share then? Beyond being fed up (and copying being straight-up wrong), Instagram is a business. I wholeheartedly believe that there’s room for everyone to have success in the industry, but the challenge comes when an individual does so by replicating another person’s content. By doing so, they dilute the other person’s brand, and, in the end, it hurts their business. All of sudden brands want you on the same campaigns or, even worse, want you to work together because your feeds look similar (yuck).

When someone copies you…

…they steal your ideas.

…they rob you of money and campaigns.

…a small part of your creative soul dies inside.

Without going into details about who the person is (and I won’t), I want to keep the focus on the larger issue at hand. How do we, as an Instagram, blogging, and online community, protect our creative content and brands? We can’t patent our ideas or pages. So how do we fix this? How do we protect each other from this situation happening?

I’d love to collaborate with all of you to find solutions. After all, one of my 2017 mantras? Action, not reaction. If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Let’s work together to find ways to fix what’s happening to a lot of people online.

A few initial ideas of how to fix the problem….

SAY SOMETHING

If you see someone copying, say something to the person affected. DM them, text them, email them, support them.

CHOOSE SIDES

Yes, I realize this sounds very kindergarten / schoolyard playground-like, but if you know a person is systematically copying someone, why would you follow them? De-follow button, please.

GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

The point of Instagram is to allow publishers to connect, converse, and create community online. I find myself constantly being inspired! Inspiration is when you see something cool but do your own take on it. Copying is doing the exact same thing. If you find ideas or inspirations from someone – just credit them!

INSTAGRAM, HELP!

If you work for Instagram, step-in and fix the situation. Never going to happen, right? Lol. From what I understand, Instagram can’t do anything unless someone is literally impersonating someone else. Not copying content. Instagram gods (if you’re listening)  – please consider a policy change for larger instances of systematic copying.

If you have other ideas, please send them my way. Comment below as I’d love to engage in a conversation about it!

I’ll leave with you with these final thoughts…

Over the years, countless friends will message/text me to flag examples of this person copying. It usually happens in the evening when I’m home from work, and I turn to my husband every time and say, “how can (this person) sleep at night?!”

His response always gives me chills…

“Very soundly,” he says. “Because it’s working.”

We, as an online community, have to work to solve this problem. On Instagram, as in life, we need to speak up when someone does something wrong. Not just for me, but for anyone experiencing it.

And believe the person when they say it’s happening. Especially since Instagram has timestamps; the proof is there alone.

You can’t fake time. But it turns out you can fake someone else’s Instagram account.

 

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