Does Instagram Need The Bumble Treatment?

24.07.19

The Devil works hard but Diet Prada works harder.

This week, Instagram’s most legendary tea-spillers exposed the predatory behaviour of high-profile fashion photographer Marcus Hyde. Diet Prada cancelled the close friend of Kim and Kanye with an Instagram DM exchange between Hyde and a young model, Sunnaya Nash, in which he told Nash that if she wanted to be shot by him she would need to pay him $2,000 or send him nude images in advance. “Gotta see if you’re worth it”, Hyde wrote. The model’s decision to come forward with her negative experience inspired hundreds of other models to share similar stories (and receipts) of Hyde using his clout in exchange for sexual favours and naked pictures. In another Instagram DM, Hyde told a model he needed nudes, “To check your body….in case you say you’re 120 lb but are actually 600 lb.” What’s worse is that Instagram deleted Sunnaya Nash’s Instagram Stories about Hyde citing “harassment”. Judging by the outpouring of eerily similar stories with high-profile photographers, it would appear as though these are far from isolated incidences. In fact, there are actual documents housed within modelling agencies around the world with “blacklisted” creatives their models are not allowed to work with as a safety precaution.

 If the Marcus Hyde story sounds familiar it’s because fashion’s unofficial watchdog, Diet Prada, has been here before; in December last year they accused designer Gosha Rubchinskiy of sending inappropriate messages to minors. Screenshots of Instagram DM’s revealed that Rubchinskiy had asked a 16-year-old boy to send him nudes and told the boy to take the pictures in the bathroom to avoid his parents finding out. On a smaller scale, I watched last month as a New Zealand Instagram account revealed the disgusting behaviour of a prominent local tattoo artist who had been repeatedly taking inappropriate photos of his clients when they visited his studio and circulated them to friends on Instagram without the clients knowledge or consent.

To me, all of this is reminiscent of the early days of Tinder when unsolicited dick pics were commonplace and suggestive eggplant emoji’s replaced a simple “Hi, how are you?”. It was the type of toxic behaviour that forced then-employee Whitney Wolfe-Herd to leave the company all together and start Bumble. When Bumble launched in 2014, it revolutionised online dating by putting women in control for the first time ever. Guys couldn’t make the first move on Bumble – they couldn’t send a wink face, at best, or a photo of their genitals, at worst, and you know what? It f*cking worked. Where Tinder had positioned themselves as a minimal-effort, transactional pursuit of on-demand hookups, Bumble found the power (and profitability) of actually asking women how they want to be treated.

But here’s the real tea. We shouldn’t have to rely on the noble deeds of Diet Prada to stop Tinder-like predators from thriving on Instagram. Instagram shouldn’t be allowing predators to thrive on their platform in the first place. But how do you filter out insidious behaviour? How do you even find it when it’s hidden so well? In 2019, predators don’t follow their victims home from the train station, they lurk in impressionable young womens DM’s and hide behind the thinly-veiled guise of “photographer” or “tattoo artist” where they remain largely free to say whatever they want.

So can someone find Whitney and tell her Instagram needs her?


Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club