A report published by The Verge highlights the work of ‘tag cleaners,’ the name given to individuals who dedicate their time and, potentially, mental health to clean up the tag pages on Instagram accounts facing digital vandalism. In this instance, the report details teenagers who are working around the clock to protect the Instagram account of Bianca Devins, a 17-year-old who was murdered on July 14.

Instagram accounts present images and videos in two categories of a user’s profile: the primary category with content posted by the account owner and a ’tagged’ category showing posts in which the account has been tagged. Following Devins gruesome death, Instagram has faced a flood of images showing her body that had first been shared by her alleged murderer on Discord and his own Instagram account.

Though Instagram has used its detection technologies alongside official moderators to remove these images, removals can take time during which viewers browsing tagged posts on Devins’ account will see the content.

Though Instagram has used its detection technologies alongside official moderators to remove these images, removals can take time during which viewers browsing tagged posts on Devins’ account will see the content. As noted by voluntary ‘tag cleaner’ memes related to Devins’ death aren’t removed because they don’t violate Instagram’s community guidelines.

Tag cleaners are described as ordinary Instagram users who dedicate their time to posting cute or otherwise harmless images tagged with accounts facing digital vandalism, including Devins’ ‘escty’ account.

A screenshot of Naomi's accounts, ‘cute.cleanup’

By doing this, visitors who browse the account’s tagged posts will see a flood of safe, respectful content that drowns out disrespectful memes and other problematic images. When one of these unacceptable images are published, a flood of harmless tagged photos will push the problematic content to the bottom, giving the troll or spam account less visibility and incentive to keep publishing the content.

Tag cleaner Naomi explained the importance of flooding an account with tagged images, telling The Verge:

‘Tag cleaning in combination with mass reporting is the way to combat the trolls. If we only relied on reporting, the tags would still be flooded with ‘those photos’ while IG removes them [...] I didn’t have to personally know Bianca to see that no one deserves this after they’re gone, especially not their family. It’s really unfortunate that this tragedy had to be inundated with insensitive memes and sick people who get a laugh out of posting ”those photos.“’