Tuesday, January 22, 2019

How to Avoid a Disabled Instagram Account

Breaking the "rules" is easier than you may realise!

Are you committing copyright infringement and don't realise that you are doing it?

Last week a ballooning friend of mine told me that their Instagram account had been disabled before Christmas for violating Instagram Community Guidelines  - over six weeks later and their account has not be restored and they have no idea why - but a cheeky little "Elf on the Shelf" had something to do with it! 

There are several things that you can do to cause your Instagram account to be disabled or worse, lost forever! This was new to me, so I did some research to help prevent this happening to all of you!

Banned Instagram Hashtags

As we all know, hashtags get your posts noticed, but did you know that there are over 114,000 banned Instagram hashtags! Some of the bans are permanent - others are temporary, usually when someone has reported content that may not meet Instagram's guidelines. These come and go so be careful when using hashtags that they are permissible to use at that time.

How do you know if the hashtags that you are using are okay to use?

  • In the search bar, type the hashtag you want to use.
  • If it does not appear in the search results, it usually mean that the hashtag is banned. The hashtag could be banned temporarily or indefinitely. This means that one day it might be blocked, another day it might be usable.
I've read several articles on this subject and was really surprised to see that words like  #Valentinesday and #newyearsday were both listed as banned hashtags, so I checked and saw that they have both been re-instated. I suppose if someone posts something inappropriate and it's reported, that hashtag is temporarily disabled.

There is a great article that has been recently updated for 2019 - Everything You Need To Know About Instagram Banned Hashtags [Updated January 2019] on Social Insider

Infringing the Copyright of other people or businesses

Please read this as you could be easily infringing copyright or trademark laws.

Under Instagram’s Terms of Use and Community Guidelines, you can only post content to Instagram if it doesn’t violate the intellectual property rights of another party. The best way to help make sure that the content you post to Instagram doesn’t violate copyright law is to only post content that you’ve created yourself.

You might also be able to use someone else’s content on Instagram if you’ve gotten permission (for example, a license), or if your use is covered by fair use or some other exception to copyright. It’s generally a good idea to get permission before posting content, and to get that permission in writing.

The key words in the above statement are licenses and copyright

How many balloon artists regularly copy licensed characters without permission? This is where a balloon artist creates a character entirely out of balloons and does not used a licensed balloon such as the Mickey Mouse Bubble as shown below. I see it all the time on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest! Not only do they copy the licensed characters, they hashtag them too, which makes it really easy for the license owners to catch people using their license without the relevant permissions required.

It might bring an artist kudos to re-create famous character designs, but is it worth having your Instagram account disabled for posting those photos? 
Here is an article on Legal Use of the Disney Characters - by Marilyn Linblad

It's not just Disney, there are so many characters and other famous things that are heavily licensed and trademarked, such as the Olympics and anything Oscar related to name just a few... there are many!

Making designs like the Mickey Mouse design using licensed balloons does not break any licensing rules.

Making designs using licensed balloons is perfectly acceptable
and does not break any licensing rules. 

If you are ever in doubt, simply search "is 'xxxx' protected by licenses or trademark laws" and it will give you all the relevant information.

Be warned, re-creating anything that is licensed or has a copyright can get you into trouble - posting it on social media and hash-tagging it simply flags it for all to see.

So let's go back to Elf on The Shelf - as I mentioned right at the beginning of this blog post, a ballooning friend of mine had their Instagram account disabled and is really struggling to get it back. 
They were informed that Instagram had removed a post for copyright infringement - this was a video that they had made showing their Elf On The Shelf stuffing balloons, the video had been hash-tagged "elfontheshelf". Thinking it was because they had used the hashtag, they continued their Elf on the Shelf marketing campaign by posting photographs of the elf being naughty each day, but this time without the hashtag, sadly after a few more posts their account was completely disabled, and it's really hard to find out why.

It's difficult to understand what's okay and what's not! The words "Elf on the Shelf" are trademarked and I suppose around Christmastime they are checking to see if it's being use appropriately. I saw so many Elf on the Shelf campaigns it's hard to know which of those were legal and which broke the rules. Or was my friend just one of the unlucky ones that got noticed?

Last week I noticed that a company had posted a photograph of mine (without permission) on their Instagram account to promote their business - which incidentally is not a balloon decor company! 

Here are the rules on this:

To repost someone else's Instagram post, you first have to obtain that person's permission to re-use their content. Then, you can use an external app such as Repost for Instagram, Instarepost, or DownloadGram.

The company that used my photo did neither, they did hashtag my name but that does not constitute as obtaining permission.

If someone has posted a photograph of yours that you took, you have to decide if you are unhappy that they are using one of your photos to promote their business, and to be honest it is probably best to contact them directly and ask them to remove the photograph, which in most cases they will. If they refuse, then you are well within your right to report them to Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.

And there are even more reason why Instagram might block you!
  • Mass Following and Mass Liking
  • Excessively Frequent Publications
  • Images/Videos Violating Social Network Rules
  • User Complaints
  • Different IP addresses and Devices
Rather than going into more details regarding the above reasons, I will guide you to a great post 6 Reasons Why Instagram Blocks You. To-Do Actions if You Get Banned - by Julia Minnie who explain each of these really well.

To be completely honest I was unaware of many of the reasons for having an Instagram account disabled, and researching for this blog has really opened my eyes. When it comes to copyrights and trademark laws, I am always very careful, as it's so easy to break these rules. When in doubt always check!  For example did you know that you are not allowed to have an "Oscars" theme party but you can have a "Hollywood Nights Party" - even words are protected by copyright laws! 

Keep your Instagram and other social media accounts safe by not inadvertently breaking any rules.

Happy Ballooning!



Louise Carstens said...

Thank you Sue for this very informative article.
What an eyeopener.

Unknown said...

Hey, Sue!

Happy to see that you found useful this list of banned hashtags.

Cheers from the Socialinsider team! - Adina

Nina Athena said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge on this topic. This is really helpful and informative, as this gave me more insight to create more ideas and solutions for my plan. I would love to see more updates from you.

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