Racy Instagram model says moderator is demanding $2.5K a month to keep her pics online
When social media starlet Kaitlyn Siragusa, known as Amouranth on Instagram and Twitch, was first notified that Instagram had removed a post for violating the platform’s rules, she saw nothing out of the ordinary, given her typical pulse-raising content. But days later, she received a chilling email. A person claiming to work for Cognizant – a company hired to police content guidelines on Instagram and Facebook – presented an ultimatum: pay up, or your posts will continue to be deleted.
“I’m sure you’ve noticed recently [that] many of your posts and stories have been removed,” the person said in the email, which was obtained by HuffPost. “Perhaps we can reach an agreement privately.”
Messaging under the pseudonym ‘Tampa’, the avowed content moderator demanded that Siragusa shell out over $2,500 per month in Bitcoin, and in exchange, “I can ensure [within] reasonable bounds that your posts … are not removed.”
Believing the email was part of a scam, Siragusa said she ignored it, but her posts kept disappearing, one by one – then she got a second message. This time ‘Tampa’ included specific timestamps for recently deleted posts, which are not easily viewable; Siragusa said she only knew they were correct because Instagram includes that information in its notifications about deleted posts. She began to take the threats more seriously.
“When I saw the timestamps, that’s when I got concerned,” Siragusa told HuffPost. “I realized this was probably an actual person with Instagram.”Also on rt.com Big election business: Democratic candidates, even critical of Facebook, pour millions into platform
When Siragusa’s agent contacted Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, answers were not forthcoming. The Facebook rep explained that the deleted posts were removed “rightfully,” and added “I can’t answer for the emails that you’re receiving” when asked about the blackmail directly.
Facebook later said that it investigated the matter “and did not find any evidence of abuse,”according to the Daily Dot. A spokesperson also told HuffPost that Siragusa’s deleted posts were flagged for nudity by the platform’s automated system, not a human moderator.
Siragusa claims that none of her posts violated Instagram’s rules, but the company ultimately concluded the photos were too “sexually suggestive” to remain on the site.
While it remains possible the blackmailer is nothing more than a resourceful scammer, a few details remain difficult to square. If the posts in question were indeed flagged by AI and not a human user or moderator, the simplest explanation – that a user manually reported Siragusa’s posts and then demanded payment after they were removed – is ruled out. The blackmailer would have had to wait patiently for the posts to be flagged by the AI system, and then collect the timestamp details for each one, a far more complicated procedure.
Also notable is the blackmailer’s choice of codename. Tampa, Florida is the location of Cognizant’s newest facility, but the blackmailer sent his initial message weeks before that facility was first mentioned in the press, suggesting insider knowledge. He also appeared to be well-versed in non-public Instagram policies.
The identity of the blackmailer, or whether he is employed by Cognizant or Instagram, remains a mystery, and none of the companies involved appear to be eager to get to the bottom of it. Siragusa, whose Instagram posts continue to drop like flies, is left with a litany of unanswered questions, and says the whole ordeal is “extremely suspect.”Also on rt.com Free speech v free enterprise? Lawsuit over big tech censorship strikes at core of American values
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