Instagram Deletes Real Gay Influencers' Account for Being Unreal

Wednesday December 30, 2020

Paul Castle and Matthew Olshefski
Paul Castle and Matthew Olshefski  (Source:Instagram)

A Seattle couple got a rude surprise from Instagram right before the holiday when they woke one morning and found their popular joint account deleted. Matthew Olshefski and husband Paul Castle became social media influencers this year, in part to the success of their joint Insta account "Matthew and Paul," which was deleted on December 20.

Paul wrote on his personal Instagram: "On December 20, hundreds of LGBTQ+ creators were targeting by trolls. Instagram is ignoring the bug that allows trolls to get an account taken down and is not responding to requests to have accounts reinstalled. Our couple's account was disabled for 'pretending to be someone else' — this is a tactic used by hate groups to disable and erase the presence of LGBTQ+ creators on Instagram."

Olshefski (aka @shirtlessviolinist) and husband Paul Castle have been using social media to tell the story of their relationship since they met in 2016.

"Paul is an artist with a rare form of blindness, and Matthew is a classical violinist who survived a cult in his childhood years. Bonded by their love of the arts, and a shared understanding of 'overcoming the odds,' not only did Matthew and Paul become social media influencers: They fell in love and got married," writes a report from the Los Angeles Blade.

Overall their social media stats are impressive: 100,000 Instagram followers, 150,000 TikTok followers, 200,000 Facebook followers, and over 15 million YouTube views.

When the pandemic happened, they started a podcast, called "His and His," that has become a surprising sensation. Called a "conversation with husbands," it features the couple talking about a variety of topics through their personal experiences. "We had no idea our podcast would resonate with so many people around the world. We have received countless messages from listeners thanking us for giving them the courage to be themselves," Paul told the LA Blade. "We were so humbled."

This led to their joint Instagram "Matthew and Paul," something of an online journal of their lives together. In just a few months, they had 33,000 followers, which Paul called the "fastest they've ever seen" since they started producing content. Their success at social media led to it becoming their full-time profession this past May — their main source of income.

Then on Sunday, December 20, 2020 they discovered their account was disabled for violating Instagram's terms of use. "Your account has been disabled for pretending to be someone else," read a subsequent message from Instagram.

"It's ironic that we were accused of being someone else," Paul told the LA Blade, "when our fans and followers thank us for being 'real' on a daily basis."

They followed the instructions to verify their identities, but never heard back from Instagram. "While we waited for the email, we did some research online and discovered people in similar situations waited over 2 months to hear back from Instagram" Matthew explained, "and others never heard back at all."

An anonymous source knowledgeable of Instagram's operations "told the Blade that almost complete reliance on the automated systems and next to no human oversight as a result of the remote virtual work environment has developed into a backlog of disputed decisions on accounts that have been disabled- as a direct result of the algorithms being tripped by repeated so-called 'complaints' over content in particular."

Three years ago Instagram Joe Putignano wrote a blistering account on the Huffington Post of his similar experience with Instagram. His account with some 264.2K followers was deleted without word or warning.

"It is not news that homophobia remains a constant threat against LGBTQ people, including apps like Instagram," Putignano wrote on Instagram. "Users do not have to show their face, or validate their identity, and some create a fake 'catfish' account and anonymously report from the safe confinement of their homes and phones.

"These users can be anywhere, amongst anyone, and can be identifying 'inappropriate content' to their hearts desire, leaving hateful comments, or throwing rocks from the shadows, as I like to say. My question still remains: Is Instagram actually taking their harassment and cyber bullying seriously?"

Comments on Facebook