I've been annoyed for some time with private meme accounts. It's never really been at the forefront of my thought, just kind of the fly buzzing around the room, bringing with it some annoyance.
When someone is DM'ing me something they think is relevant and funny to me, I don't particularly want to go through the effort of following someone, waiting for them to accept me and then days later, smirk at whatever someone sent me. It's too long of a build-up, so then the meme is remarkably less funny.
It used to happen every now and then. Cazey would send me something from @TheTinderBlog, then I'd remark I can't see it, and he'd either tell me what it said or screen shot it to me via text. Then one day he got annoyed with me and just told me to follow them.
So I caved and followed them.
But then it became an avalanche of private accounts I needed to follow just to see some damn memes. And that's when it transitioned from a slight annoyance to a soapbox topic I'd like to blog about.
After brief consideration, here's a few reasons I don't like private meme accounts:
1. It's a social media game.
The only reason you have to follow an account to see their content is to get their follower numbers up. You're participating in an inflation of someone's social media clout. Which is important to them, very important. More on that to come in #3.
2. It gives some sense of ownership over content that isn't theirs.
True, since the early days of meme accounts like the @thefatjewish, who got in a bit of hot water for not crediting sources a few years ago, meme accounts have started attributing the source better. Often, they will screenshot a tweet with the person's handle in it. However, they're not back-linking to those accounts. They're not helping grow that person's following (some do, some don't).
When the meme account is private, it's giving some air of exclusivity to the content, when really it's just stolen jokes that you can find on other accounts. We're paying the gatekeeper for content that isn't even theirs.
This might seem petty, but...
3. Meme accounts make an insane amount of ad revenue.
On a small scale, we're talking $2,000 for a post. And on the bigger end, we're talking $30,000 (according to HighSnobiety) per post. PER POST.
Let that sink in.
For about 30 seconds of work, someone is making $30K because they spend a lot of time stealing other people's funny.
I get that content curation is a part of social media. It's a legitimate way to fill out a social media channel, as creating content every day is hard. It's really difficult, I get that. And using curated content is an awesome, fun way to engage with good content and share it with your audience when it's relatable.
However, if most of your stream is curated content, I find it disingenuous. You're not doing the "hard work," but getting paid for it.
If I were to relate it to an old-school relationship: Take the artist, who create amazing portraits (the content creator). They need the gallery to exhibit it (the content curators). However, online, you are not seeing the "wealth" trickle back to the creators. It's just the curators who are getting those followers, and therefore the ones getting the ad revenue. I get the holdup too.
Everyday people are tweeting something funny, striking lightning once and that singular tweet / meme / picture is their only notable contribution to internet content. One of their thousand tweets goes 'viral.' So sure, they won't / shouldn't get sponsored for one good piece of content. It's just a drop in the bucket. It's those curators who gather up all the drops of water into the bucket and make it rain. And then get rained on in ad revenue.
Having an eye for good content and keeping your stream up-to-date is wildly time consuming, but I still find it ridiculous that content re-posters get all the money and the actual creatives get nothing.
And that's why I roll my eyes when I get that DM that says "insert_meme_account_name is private."
When I hit that follow button, I'm supporting people who sit around waiting for other people to be funny, repost it and then make ad revenue off of it.