Instagram cracks down with new policy, shutting down some popular Philly accounts

Cherri Gregg
September 03, 2019 - 7:41 pm
Terrence Harrell and Mike Coyle sitting for an interview.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A number of very popular Philadelphia-based Instagrammers recently had their accounts shut down because of their content. The move comes just weeks after the social media platform rolled out a new policy on disabling accounts.

Under the new policy released in July, Instagram announced it would not only remove accounts that have a certain percentage of content that violates its community standards, but also accounts that have a certain number of violations within a period of time.  

"I didn’t receive a message. I didn’t receive anything at all from nobody. The page was just removed," said Mike Coyle, who runs the account @KensingtonBeach_.

With about 40,000 followers, the 2-year-old account began to spark controversy a few months ago because of its graphic videos showing people openly using drugs and under the influence of drugs in Kensington. 

Coyle said about a dozen of his videos were taken down by the social media platform in the past six months with the statement that the posts violated community standards.

"I would disagree because a lot of the times, when they were taking things down, there was no nudity in it," he said. "It didn't violate Instagram standards."

@KensingtonBeach_ has been removed from Instagram.
Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

Coyle has received both praise and backlash for the account. 

He says he posts to raise awareness about the realities of opioid and drug use. He claims he's reunited families that have been searching for loved ones lost to addiction and that the account also educated youths about what could happen if they use drugs.  

Some have criticized Coyle, claiming he exploits the vulnerable.

"There was a little bit of negative, but the majority of it was positive," he said. "The account is for good."

When his account was shut down Sunday morning, he quickly started using his backup account @KensingtonBeachPhilly, but also began having access problems.

"They took away the account without me putting up one post," he said. "I feel like they violated my rights. It doesn't make sense to me."

Coyle has appealed, but he's not alone.

"I don’t know if we are being targeted," said Terrence Harrell, owner of the account @NoGunZone.

No Gun Zone has made headlines for its posts related to gun violence and its aftermath. It's an account often monitored by police, journalists and families who have lost loved ones to gun violence, as the account posts funeral and vigil information following shootings.

It also gives those impacted by violence a place to vent.  

Screenshot of No Gun Zone Instagram account.
Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

With roughly 135,000 followers, the account has also sparked controversy by those closest to the violence.

Harrell said he's had posts flagged and removed as well. Then, last week, he too was shut down by Instagram.

"I was told I violated," said Harrell. "I definitely feel like they violated my First Amendment rights."

Harrell followed the proper Instagram channels for appeal and within a few hours, his account was reinstated on Saturday.

"The page was given back without a hassle," he said. "They said they made a mistake."

A number of other popular, locally run pages have also been shut down. 

Instagram did not return a request for comment. However, under the new policy, it appears that repeated censoring by Instagram could end with a disabled account.