Why Your Favourite Instagram Meme Page Got Shamed As 'Thieves'
Online comedy account FuckJerry is linked to both the world record egg and Fyre Festival, so why has the account lost hundreds of thousands of followers this week?
The account -- currently with more than 14 million followers on Instagram and nearly four million on Facebook -- posts memes, jokes and funny pictures from around the internet. Its creators say it "aggregates" online content.
Other people say it outright steals that content, from established accounts and professional comedians down to regular internet users, and often crops out the identification of the person who originally posted it.
"The FuckJerry IG account, and in turn their marketing company, is built on stolen content," Megh Wright, comedy editor at New York magazine's website Vulture, told 10 daily.
"These accounts should not make money off stealing other people's work."
As well as accounts like The Fat Jewish, have come under repeated fire in recent years for ripping off content from other internet users, including professionally funny people.
But despite a growing backlash in the comedy community, these accounts have continued to grow not only in followers but in endorsements.
The Fat Jewish's founder, Josh Ostrovsky, has launched his own wine brand, scored book and modelling deals, and launched a radio show. FuckJerry's founders have branched out into a line of tequila, a card game, and branded merchandise.
FuckJerry has been in news recently for other reasons too -- after being exposed as one of the companies that helped promote the doomed Fyre Festival, as well as reportedly being part of a push to monetise the @world_record_egg Instagram account.
Both accounts have been paid big bucks by huge brands like Apple, Burger King and Bumble, to advertise its products in social media posts.
A 2017 article from Ad Week reported the account could, at that time, charge up to $30,000 for a single sponsored post on Instagram.
Even TV network Comedy Central recently got Fuck Jerry to help promote its new season of hit sitcom 'Broad City' -- which caught the attention of Wright, who was upset that a comedy channel would legitimise a controversial Instagram account that has a reputation for stealing jokes.
Under the hashtag #FuckFuckJerry, Wright has been calling for people to unfollow the account.
The campaign has attracted the support of many comedians, content makers and social media personalities, including Perez Hilton, Amy Schumer, Colin Hanks, Patton Oswalt, Mara Wilson, John Mulaney, Billy Eichner, Judah Friedlander and Tim Heidecker.
"The FuckFuckJerry campaign is ultimately about raising awareness about what comedians and artists have known for years," Wright told 10 daily.
The idea is to encourage more people to support original work and stand against stealing others' art to get ad dollars by unfollowing the account.
"I want to make an impressive dent in the follower account and create a movement where it becomes impossible for anyone who spends lots of time on the internet to be unaware of why so many creators are tired of what FJ does."
The campaign has, so far, been hailed as a success.
Wright produced social media analytics to claim Fuck Jerry lost more than 130,000 Instagram followers in a single day over the weekend, and more than 200,000 in the last week, as the #FuckFuckJerry campaign heated up.
Comedy Central also pulled its ads from the account.
It led to account founder Elliot Tebele issuing a mea culpa online, admitting in a blog post that the account had been "using content and not giving proper credit and attribution to its creators."
"Effective immediately, we will no longer post content when we cannot identify the creator, and will require the original creator’s advanced consent before publishing their content to our followers," Tebele wrote, in what will be a large change to how the account operates.
"It is clear that attribution is no longer sufficient, so permission will become the new policy.
"We want to apologize to anyone who feels we have wronged them in the past. We want to do the right thing by creators by seeking permission and giving them the credit they deserve."
The account has also deleted a number of posts, according to Wright, but its Instagram page is still full of jokes and content that have been screenshotted from other accounts -- albeit, with the original creator credited.
Wright has welcomed the change but said more needed to be done around similar accounts that continue to act in the same way.
"These accounts should not make money off stealing other people's work," she said.
"I hope this movement helps kick-start a bigger conversation about that."
10 daily has sought comment from FuckJerry.