July 3, 2019

Action Alert:
Instagram: stop influencers glamorizing guns

July 1776 – America’s founding fathers, fighting a war of independence with muskets, knew even then that the ability to wound or kill from a great distance should only be given to a well-regulated militia.  Even if it took minutes to load, fire and reload – and even if the musket sites were not always reliable, they knew they had serious weaponry that needed to be respected, controlled and regulated.

July 2019 – Social media is filled with images making guns look sexy, desirable, fashionable.  These are not muskets firing one or two rounds per minute; these are weapons like the AR-15, firing up to 45 rounds per minute.  Arguably the founding fathers didn’t foresee a future with bikini-clad women posing with guns that could kill scores in minutes.

According to an article by Pauline Allione,:

“the same way cosmetic brands are using it [Instagram] to sell their products, some influencers, vets, hunters, and models are now paid to pose with a firearm.”

It is far from clear in many cases what is a person posing with a gun and what is a paid-for influencer.

Ms Allione writes:  “… paralegal Liberte Austin from Texas, who regularly poses taking her aim staring in her viewfinder right after posting a picture promoting teeth whitening products or vitamins. As it turns out, Liberte Austin is also an ambassador for patriotic clothing brands.

“As for Kimberly Matte, she loves to pose wearing lingerie and holding a gun. No matter how cliché the staggering is, the Canadian model does her part to brush up the image of the arming industry by making through her badass and sexy look. She could almost have us forget these items are made to kill.”


Please contact Instagram through one of the channels below and give them the following message, personalized to your liking:

I am absolutely shocked that Instagram allows paid influencers to glamorize guns.  This is offensive and dangerous.  Young and/or impressionable people are shown images of beautiful people, often women trying to be sexy, holding semi-automatic and automatic weapons.  In a culture where mass shootings using such deadly weapons is a daily occurrence, I find Instagram to be culpable in perpetuating guns as desirable, fashionable and sexy items to own.  It is an insult to every Instagram user who had a loved one injured or killed that you allow such imagery.

Some would say that there is something ‘feminist’ about women posing with guns.  It is patronizing, sexist and insulting to my intelligence to equate a weapon of mass murder as being an aide to equality.  The statistics show that women are often the victims of gun violence perpetrated by someone they know.

There is not even an appropriate way to complain about these images using your complaints procedure.  We are allowed to complain for instance about someone selling cannabis – but we cannot complain about someone who wants to tout a deadly weapon designed to kill people.  I want you to ensure such paid for influencers are clearly identified as such, that their content – which should be banned – is at least filtered out so that the young and impressionable don’t see it.  Your complaints procedure has a way to complain about eating disorder-related posts:  this seems to be an acknowledgement that such posts can glamorize being unhealthily thin and have a serious impact.  Surely then imagery and posts featuring deadly weapons also have an impact:  guns take lives on a daily basis.  Do the right thing, and ban these images.

Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) – the Head of Instagram
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/adam
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mosseri 

Kevin Systrom (@kevin) co-founded Instagram
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/kevin

Mike Krieger (@mikeyk) co-founded Instagram
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/mikeyk
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mikeyk


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