New York woman calls for Instagram action after travel page tells her it won’t feature Jews

“I personally don’t believe this user should be allowed on platforms like this,” said Katelyn Glass, 32.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

A Jewish woman in New York wants photo-sharing giant Instagram to remove an account that refused to collaborate with her because of her Jewish heritage, she told The Algemeiner late last week.

“I personally don’t believe this user should be allowed on platforms like this,” said Katelyn Glass, 32. “I would love if Instagram could remove the account, but that’s sort of like wishing for world peace. I don’t think Instagram or Facebook will ever really stand against hate in that way.”

A few weeks ago, an Instagram account that goes by the handle TheWanderingCouples messaged Glass asking if they could republish a photo of her and her boyfriend on their page.

The account posts photos of couples in beautiful locations around the world and describes itself as a “travelling couples community.” It uploaded its first images in November 2018, and as of the time of publication boasts 5,260 followers. The Algemeiner was unable to determine additional details about the page’s managers.

Glass, who said she had been following the page for a while and had looked to the account for travel inspiration in the past, said she was initially excited about the potential partnership.

Katelyn Glass’ exchange with TheWanderingCouples (Instagram)

But when TheWanderingCouples privately messaged Glass last week to follow up with some additional questions, they asked her “Are you Jew?” to which Glass replied, “Yes, why does that matter?”

The account responded saying, “Yes, it matters for me. Sorry, can’t feature you.”

Glass, who works in e-commerce, blocked the account immediately after their exchange and reported it to Instagram on the grounds of hate speech. She was disappointed when the Facebook-owned social networking service replied saying they could not take action because the account was not publicly posting anything that represented hate speech.

Glass, originally a Connecticut native, tried to alert other social media users about the bigoted page. She told The Algemeiner that “a handful” of others have since reported the account to Instagram, which has over 1 billion users.

TheWanderingCouples did not respond to The Algemeiner’s request for a comment.

“Stigma and discrimination exist across the world, and each one of us has the responsibility of fighting it,” said the co-director of Jewish Girls Travel, another Instagram account which tried to spread the word.

Glass said she had never before been discriminated against for her Jewish faith and that the experience was “eye-opening.” Her motivation in speaking out, she said, was because “I wanted people to see that the hatred is real.”

“I honestly had no idea what to say or how to even respond. I just wanted other people to be aware,” she explained. “My boyfriend is also non-Jewish and he was like ‘Oh my God, this is crazy. I cant believe that’ and it’s sort of a sad world we live in where I just said, ‘Yeah, this isn’t the first time you’re gonna hear something anti-Semitic and this isn’t going to be the last time.’”

Glass believes Instagram should take a closer look at how hate speech incidents are handled. “Just because someone doesn’t directly post something that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t exist,” she said. “So it would be great if they could react, but at the same time I understand how Instagram works and I just don’t really count on them doing anything.”

Instagram has come under fire in the past for its failure to adequately address anti-Semitic material on the site. In March the app faced criticism for declining to remove an offending picture uploaded by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, saying the account had not violated its community rules. Last year researchers noted an increase in anti-Semitic posts from far-right users of Instagram and Twitter, and concluded that the services are not doing enough to combat the prejudice.