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Instagram removes ‘Mute White People’ sticker amid wave of backlash

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Social media platform Instagram quickly removed a “Mute White People” sticker following massive backlash mostly from conservatives, including criticism from presidential son Donald Trump Jr.

Though the sticker, which was created by Refinery29, is no longer available on the platform, it nevertheless remains available at the GIPHY website. Like Instagram, GIPHY is owned by Facebook,  the Mark Zuckerberg-owned platform.

The sticker went viral after Fox News contributor and Townhall editor Katie Pavlich found it and tweeted a screenshot from her phone July on Monday, writing, “Instagram has a ‘mute white people’ button in stories.’”

Another user noted that the sticker was coming from GIPHY.

Following Pavlich’s tweet, Don Jr. blasted Instagram for even permitting the sticker on its platform, writing, “Remember, it’s not racist if it’s racist against white people.”

Conservative social commentator Ashley StClair also noticed the sticker, tweeting a screenshot and adding: I’m going to need an explanation for this new racist Instagram sticker….”

She followed up with a short video of her accessing the sticker, writing, “For those asking if it’s real…”

Later, StClair tweeted out a video and post noting that she had “independently verified” that both Instagram and Facebook removed the sticker, noting, “The real question is whether or not the FOUR companies that were complicit in publishing this racist gif will make a statement.”

On Tuesday, StClair said that a conservative friend had a post removed for utilizing stickers Instagram had initially permitted. The notification in the screenshot said that the ‘offending’ post was “removed for hate speech or symbols.”

“Is this an admission from @instagram that they published hate speech for all users to use?” StClair responded.

Refinery29 is a media outlet focused primarily on a female audience, according to the GIPHY site, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday.

Other GIFs uploaded by the company include “REPARATIONS$$$,” “DEFUND THE POLICE,” “PAY BLACK WOMEN,” and “CANCELED.”

The sticker is formally known as the “Unbothered Sticker.” The Washington Examiner noted that GIPHY moderators have to approve stickers and GIFs that can be shared in its library and, eventually, platforms.

“To ensure that GIPHY stickers will always be fun and safe no matter where you see them, we have an enhanced moderation process for approving stickers into our library. This is a permanent part of our moderation process and may impact the turnaround time for uploaded content to appear within the Sticker API (which powers partners such as Instagram),” the company’s website notes.

The news outlet noted further that in March, Lyndsey Fifield, the social media manager for the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the think tank’s news and opinion site, The Daily Signal, lost its verified status after it “mysteriously disappeared.”

“Just hours after tweeting this, our verified status on @GIPHY mysteriously disappeared—stripping our gifs and stickers from the gif banks on Twitter and Instagram. The only pro-life & pro-capitalism gifs on IG. I’m hopeful this was a mistake and that their team will resolve it,” she wrote on Twitter, added that one GIF she created received more than 39 million views.

She noted that the site’s status was re-verified shortly thereafter.

Several others reacted negatively to the sticker as well.

**Warning: Strong language

 

Jon Dougherty

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