“Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.” -Alice Walker
When Alice Walker uttered those words, she knew something about having one’s voice stifled. But she encouraged poets to use the power of their words to rage against the machine anyway.
Today, that machine is Instagram and the algorithm the social media platform has implemented which prioritizes certain posts over others.
Now a new generation of artists known as Instapoets are facing repression because Instagram is limiting their access to followers, Ozy reported. One of those poets is Nikita Gill, a popular Instapoet from Britain.
Gill said she went from getting heavy engagement of 20,000 likes per post to her numbers becoming stagnant. It is troubling for Gill and her fellow poets because their Instagram followers also make up a large percentage of their customers for book sales and performances.
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“Instagram is making the platform more and more inaccessible for artists and small businesses unless we pay it money to boost our posts,” Gill told Ozy.
Since Instapoets have helped redefine the genre for millennials, lovers of the art form are concerned Instagram’s censorship (whether inadvertent or not) will hurt the reach of powerful young voices like Gill, Rupi Kaur and others.
Andrea Reece of Forward Arts Foundation in the U.K. said if this happens it will also hurt how poetry impacts the next generation.
“The poets of Instagram have changed the way in which young people see poetry,” Reece said. “It’s great that social media enabled this … It would be greater still if the social media business model recognized that algorithms can’t measure all value. The words of poets like Nikita are not just products, they can be lifelines to their young female readers because she opens an approach to huge taboo subjects.”
Algorithm oh algorithm, what hast thou done?
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