As Instagram has transitioned from being a picture-sharing service to a self-branding platform, girls as young as 14 can cash in on stardom. However, in order for a girl to gain enough social credit to make the big bucks on the Facebook-owned company, she must be prepared to compromise herself, including posting pictures in her underwear, and participating in her own self-commodification through poses that conform to the porn chic aesthetic. This aesthetic increasingly demands a girl take close-up selfies of her body parts, and video herself on her bed with a look of availability. In every meaningful sense of the term, such a girl has become a sex worker.
The only guaranteed beneficiary from this constant supply of free labor is Instagram itself, and its parent company Facebook. The more girls come to use the service, the more Facebook can monetize their low self-image through working with weight-loss apps and cosmetic companies. These girls are essentially Mark Zuckerberg’s harem of sex workers, surrendering their bodies to consumer culture for the sake of actual or potential financial gain.
If this model were transferred to a giant warehouse or small village, where the same incentives were used to compel tens of thousands of girls to strip down to their underwear, there would be headlines across America about Mark Zuckerberg’s private harem. But because this labor has been decentralized and is organized through the cloud, and because the financial and psychological incentives are delivered through third parties, the true scandal of Instagram has bypassed public attention.
To read my recent Salvo Report on the Instagram scandal, click on the links below: