I have had a few people ask me lately what the big deal is over the #horror embargo that's happening on Instagram. "Why not use another tag?" and "Who's it hurting?" As for another tag, currently you can tag anything with the prefix of #horror (i.e., #horrorauthor, #horrorblog, #horrormovie, etc...) and it doesn't throw any flags or stop you. But what happens when that changes and, more importantly, why should we be okay with being warned repeatedly that what we love is "harmful"? The overall implication with the wording and nature of the Instagram censorship is that we, as a community of fans and creators, are defective and dangerous and that people should seek help for being interested.
Meanwhile, here's a short list of people who are being effected in part or in whole by this cultural assault:
Obviously filmmakers are being effected by the #horror embargo. Many use Instagram and other forms of social media to keep fans and prospective investors in the loop as to what they're making and where they're at with their projects. It's also an unbelievable marketing and networking tool connecting these filmmakers with festivals and other creators.
Haunters, actors, and models in the genre and community are going to be effected as this embargo continues. Unless being promoted by a major studio or entity in the community, these are independent artists who are not only plying their craft but devoting some serious time to cultivating an audience and a relationship with that audience.
FX and make-up artists, photographers, painters, sculptors...the people you traditionally think of as "artists" are going to take a huge hit. While Instagram has guidelines that allow leniency for paintings and drawings but with so few people truly understanding that, these particular creators aren't just fighting the algorithm but trolls.
Taxidermists, macabre crafters, jewellers, toymakers, anyone making anything horror related and sharing it online. A lot of people make decor, clothing, crafts, everything you can imagine within the horror lifestyle and aesthetic and they rely on these networks to sell, trade, and make a living.
Organizing a horror film festival? Running a zombie walk or haunted attraction? You can bet that the algorithm is going to make sure to punish you if you mention the tag #horror to promote it. But, there again, that seems to be the overarching theme of this entire embargo. Big outlets, producers, events, anyone with the money to buy followers, influence, and blanket advertising through the site isn't going to feel the burden of having this or any other hashtag blocked because they have the means to hemorrhage money at the problem.
Entire industries have risen from the birth of social media. Others have grown and evolved in ways never before imagined. Writers, artists, filmmakers, actors, musicians, podcasters...so many incredibly talented creators have become a part of our lives and community through a simple hashtag.
If you think that this fight ends with #horror you're dead wrong. Instagram has told us that, as a community we are anathema. Soon the algorithm is going to go after anything with horror in the title. It'll eat through adjectives until we are villified and outcast. We have to start fighting this now, making noise and pushing for change or we're going to find ourselves as a community of online transients, disorganized and unable to come together..
Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, they've already made it clear that we are not welcome and with Instagram joining that bandwagon, how long before we're left without a means of networking and promotion online?
Tell Instagram that #horrorishealthy before it's too late.
Dan is an author, editorialist, podcaster, and horror culture & lifestyle correspondent from the Southeast. You can find Dan's stories at Danno of the Dead Blog and through PDI Press.