Mashable: Instagram can’t stop flood of grisly photos from teen’s murder so users step up

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Instagram users are stepping up to stanch the flow of photos showing a popular teen e-girl’s murder as the platform fails to quickly remove the images.

As bad actors upload grisly photos showing the teen’s slit neck with certain hashtags, some users are working to bury those posts under images of pink clouds and cats wearing flower crowns with those same hashtags and tagging the victim’s account. The inventive approach makes it harder to search for pictures of Bianca Devins’ dead body. 

Devins, 17, who used the Instagram handle @escty, was allegedly murdered by Brandon Andrew Clark, 21, on Sunday. He then, according to authorities, took photos of her dead body, posting a gruesome image of her brutally cut neck and bloodied face to his Instagram story, 4chan, and Discord. Police identified Clark as Devins’ boyfriend, but a mutual friend told Rolling Stone that their relationship was “strictly platonic.” They originally met online, but met in person for the first time about two months ago, according to the Daily Beast.

Devins frequented Discord servers and the anonymous forum 4chan, and incorporated Minecraft and Hello Kitty into her posts. She was known as an e-girl, a subculture of young women who tend to have large followings on TikTok, Tumblr, and Instagram, and blend gamer culture with emo aesthetics. 




Clark posted a photo of Devins’ body on Discord with the message: “Sorry fuckers, you’re gonna have to find someone else to orbit.” He also doxxed her, sharing her real name and home address to the group, who previously only knew her relatively anonymous online persona.

Orbiting was originally used to describe the not-quite-ghosting practice of lurking on past dates’ social media presences. Lately, the term has also been used to describe men who engage with a woman’s social media in hopes of sleeping with them. Like many women online, popular e-girls deal with orbiters on a daily basis.  

Clark, of Bridgeport, New York, and Devins, of Utica, attended a concert with another male friend on the night before the murder. Clark was supposed to give her a ride home. Devins sent another Discord user messages about holding hands with the other friend and kissing him at the show. Her last message was sent at 5:47 a.m. local time. Clark posted the photos of her dead body around 6:40 a.m. 


Another member of the Discord server followed Clark on Snapchat, and used his Snapmaps location to alert the police after seeing the photo of Devins’ body. Utica Police Department officials stated that the station received calls from multiple 4chan and Discord users, and said Clark himself called 911. When officers arrived at the scene, Clark began stabbing himself. He is in “critical condition” from the self-inflicted wounds but expected to survive.

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On his Instagram account @yesjuliet, Clark updated his Story leading up to the homicide. He shared the Fight Club quote, “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” He then posted a blurry photo of a highway, writing “Here comes Hell. It’s redemption, right?” When he posted the photo of Devins’ murdered body, he captioned it, “I’m sorry Bianca.” 






The photo of Devins’ body has been screenshot, posted, taken down, and reposted by hundreds of anonymous Instagram users. The platform isn’t keeping up; for every reported photo it takes down, more accounts share it again. 

Instagram disabled Clark’s account for violating its policies. In a statement to Mashable, the company said it’s also blocking and disabling other hashtags associated with the image, like #yesjuliet, to mitigate the situation. In addition, Instagram said it’s using “image hashing” to identify and remove photos of Devin’s body.

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“The technology allows us to find other images that are visually similar to the original image posted and automatically remove them,” Instagram spokesperson Stephanie Otway said in an email. “We aren’t working with other sites directly, but when our teams became aware of other images from this incident on other sites we also hashed them as a preventative measure to stop this content from being uploaded to Instagram.”

While the hashtag #yesjuliet was disabled at the time of writing, the widely shared photo of Devins’ body was still visible on anonymous Instagram accounts. Some were blurred out by a content filter, but numerous posts were not. Accounts posting the photo also tagged @escty, which means anyone scrolling through her tagged photos might stumble across the deeply disturbing image. In an effort to gain clout — essentially popularity points —  accounts are also urging Instagram users to DM them for the photo. 

Many Instagram users don’t think the platform is doing enough to moderate its content, so they’ve taken matters into their own hands, tagging Devins’ account so her tagged section is filled with bubblegum pink sunsets, cats surrounded by heart emoji, and pastel stuffed animals. Accounts also called for fellow Instagram users to caption wholesome posts with the tag #escty and #ripbianca to outnumber the photos of her dead body in the searchable tag. Instagram users are also tricking each other with slideshows. Rather than showing the horrific image of her death in a slideshow advertising “pics of Bianca,” posters are using the method to criticize those seeking them out. 

Devins’ followers have also created new accounts to drown out the gory photos of her body. The newly created account @bia.nnccaa is run by a teenager who was horrified by the photos she saw and didn’t believe “Instagram isn’t doing a good job by itself.” She wants Devins to be remembered in a positive light, sharing heartwarming photos of Devins after her high school graduation and bedazzled pink PS3 controllers in her honor.

“It has been a very upsetting few hours and I’m honestly a little pissed at Instagram for not handling this better,” the user behind @bia.nnccaa said in a DM to Mashable. “I know it’s impossible to take down every single post but come on now. A 13-year-old girl shouldn’t be the one trying to take down sick people’s posts. This experience has sickened me to my core.” 

People also banded together to report accounts that slip through Instagram’s cracks in addition to spamming Devins’ tags with aesthetically pleasing images. The user @stopthegore has been highlighting accounts that shared the photo of Devins’ body, urging followers to report them. They also pushed followers to report accounts who made insensitive and offensive memes about the murder. 

“Unfortunately reporting everything won’t work, Instagram will just cover the photo with a sensitivity screen,” stopthegore said in a DM. “If Instagram will allow this then it is our job to try to stop it. Even if it takes posting a billion cat pictures.” 




They also criticized Instagram’s policy of taking down posts from sex toy companies focused on female pleasure or posts showing women’s breasts. Considering the platform couldn’t effectively hide photos of Devins’ body, stopthegore noted, the policy seems hypocritical. 




“There’s always an issue regarding the female body and how it’s presented,” they continued in the DMs. “They’ll drop anything to delete a post of a mother breastfeeding her child in a maternity shoot, but they’ll turn [their] heads to a minor’s dead body.” 

Devins’ account has been memorialized, according to a statement from Instagram, which means her posts will stay visible but nobody will be able to log into the account and make changes. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Devins’ friend identified as Chels described the teenager as a “sweet person.”




“She always tried to make people feel good, feel loved,” she said, remembering her friend. “Helped them when they were down even if she was going through her own shit.”

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