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Tribute acts protest Facebook and Instagram policies on impersonators

By | Published on Wednesday 28 June 2023

Kelly O'Brien - The Dolly Show

Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Dolly Parton and Adele were among a group of artists who protested outside Meta’s London offices yesterday. Not the actual artists, obviously, but a group of tribute acts. I probably should have made that clearer.

They were protesting against Facebook and Instagram policies that ban people from impersonating others on the two social media platforms, which have seemingly been having a negative impact on tribute acts of late.

The protestors – which also included Freddie Mercury, George Michael and Shania Twain impersonators – all say that they have had their accounts deleted by Facebook and Instagram, which in turn negatively impacted their ability to earn an income from their acts.

While the protestors argue that Meta’s social media platforms are outright “banning” tribute acts, the company insists that is not, in fact, the case.

Instead, some tribute acts have been falling foul of policies and systems that are designed to stop people from maliciously impersonating celebrities and other public figures on the Facebook and Instagram platforms. The implementation of those systems has led to the accounts of some tribute acts being blocked by mistake, Meta admits.

Dolly Parton impersonator Kelly O’Brien told the BBC: “We started a campaign three months ago. We had a little bit of interest from Meta, promising that they would take care of all of our accounts. Some of us got our accounts back, but yet again we’ve been banned. It just keeps happening over and over and over”.

Madeleine Roberts – who performs as Shania Twain – added: “You build up this following and it’s all just gone. You can’t promote your shows, people can’t get in touch with you [who] come to see you”.

Responding to the protest, a spokesperson for Meta says: “We’ve always allowed tribute acts on Facebook and Instagram, and we know our platforms play an important role in helping these communities connect with fans”.

“Our technology sometimes makes mistakes and we’ve reinstated a number of pages and accounts that were wrongly removed for impersonation”, they go on. “We understand how frustrating this can be, which is why we encourage tribute acts to make it clear in their bio or profile that they’re not the real individual”.

As noted there, Meta insists that tribute acts clearly stating that they are not the artist they are impersonating on their Facebook or Instagram profiles should stop any mistaken blocking of their accounts.

And if that doesn’t work, maybe they could try employing the technique long used by tribute acts to communicate their impersonation status – the shit pun performing name. I offer you ShaNOa Twain, Fakie Mercury, Taylor Quick, Dolly Part-non, Brit-nay Spears, George Mightnotactuallybehimatall and Adull at no charge.