Arts & Culture

Instagram Apologizes To Houston Artist For Account Closure

After review, a team at the social media site restored Phillip Kremer’s page on Monday after a week-long outcry on social media.


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Earlier, we reported that artist Phillip Kremer’s Instagram account, wherein Kremer parodies well-known figures including presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, had been shut down with no explanation.

On March 14, he received a message from a friend telling him his old Instagram account was back up.

"I didn't believe her," he said. "I was like, ‘Nah, somebody would've told me.'"

So he went to bed, only to wake up to an email from the site Tuesday morning, telling him that his account had been restored.

"To this day, I really don't know why it was shut down," Kremer says. "I just know that it was reinstated because they considered the art factor of those pictures and what I was doing with them."

Which makes things confusing, considering the fact that Instagram originally denied the closure had anything to do with his photos mocking Donald Trump.

The pictures involved digital distortions of peoples' faces, such as presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Some may be called grotesque, but there was nothing about them that blatantly violated Instagram's Community Guidelines.

Following his account closure, many of his followers rallied on social media to defend him, creating the hashtag #FreePhillipKremer. He sent an email inquiry to the social networking service last Friday but didn't get a response until Tuesday morning.

An Instagram spokesperson told him their team did another review and took into consideration the artistic context of the images. They apologized for the confusion.

But Kremer says it still raises bigger questions: "If what I'm doing is causing them to question acceptability of what's okay and what's not okay, then who's to say where the line is?"

Original statement from Instagram’s spokesperson to Houston Public Media on Sunday, March 6th:

Although I'm not allowed to comment on individual accounts, I can tell you that the depictions of Donald Trump had nothing to do with the account being removed.

The email to Kremer from an Instagram on Tuesday, March 15th:

Hi Phillip –

As you probably know, your account was restored today. Our team did another review that took into consideration the artistic context of the account, and decided to reinstate.

We are very sorry for the confusion and strain the removal of your account caused, and appreciate your patience during the review.

Latest email from Instagram’s spokesperson to Houston Public Media on Tuesday, March 15th:

The account in question was removed in error and was reinstated upon further review.


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