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HARASSMENT AS A BUSINESS MODEL

Years ago a colleague of mine wrote a blog post titled “Littering as a Business Model”. It was timely and addressed the issue we were all having at the time with phone books being dumped in piles on our doorsteps. He was inspired when he arrived at our office (a building with four tenants) to find about 20 phone books piled in front of the door as a “courtesy”. It was frustrating.

This is a sample of the type of account that comments on our photos.

Fast forward nearly 10 years and I’m finding myself with the same frustration with brands on Instagram using recruiters or brand ambassadors constantly and relentlessly commenting and soliciting us to contact their main account.


At first, it was rare and no big deal, just a random comment here and there. Easy, right? Just delete and move on. That worked for a while until the comments came with such a high frequency that they were clogging up our account.


Here’s the issue. We’re a dog daycare. We post pictures of all of the cute dogs that come to our facility because we love having them and we want people to see how lucky we are to have these dogs in the building every day. It’s one of our policies that owners sign off that allows us to use pictures of their dogs in our social media and the occasional ad as well as in photos around our business. This DOES NOT give us the right to share those pictures with other brands for their use. Seems simple, but these recruiters just don’t seem to get it.


There’s an ongoing process that we have in maintaining our Instagram account. Spot the comment, report it as spam (by the way, Instagram does absolutely nothing in response), and block the account. Check out this composite of blocked accounts - this is just from the last six months or so but we’ve been doing this for a couple of years now.

There is some solace in finding accounts that also share the frustration like this person who created an account (albeit a very gentle protestation) about one of the accounts that have posted on our photos many times.

Here’s the thing, if you happen to see a comment on a photo of your dog like the sample here, feel free to contact them if you want to participate, but know that we won’t be doing it since it’s just not our place to do so!

So apparently harassment has replaced littering as a new business model. If harassment is too strong a word, perhaps inundation is better (it just didn’t make as great a headline). Either way, this is a practice I just can’t get behind.


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