Here's how Alexis Madrigal sets up his excellent Atlantic essay about why online protests usually flop:
There is an Instagram account called FuckJerry, which grew by taking jokes and memes created by other people and posting them, eventually growing an audience hungry for ever more jokes. The account spawned a media company, Jerry Media, and desperate ad executives from the world’s biggest companies now pay to be seen on FuckJerry, on the premise that that’s where they’ll reach young people who don’t have their eyeballs on the places they used to.
A call to unfollow FuckJerry (#FuckFuckJerry) for posting memes without credit resulted in its follower count dropping from 14.3 million to 14 million. In other words FuckJerry will suffer no economic hit.
Why did the campaign fail? First of all, the world's biggest brands and platforms need FuckJerry. Madrigal:
The economic system undergirding the influencer economy -- the advertising agencies, marketers, companies -- wants the FuckJerrys of the world to exist. So do the big platforms, which profit from these accounts’ ability to serve up and accelerate crowd-pleasing memes.
The problem isn't FuckJerry. It's the way social media has been designed and deployed to support a desperate-for-attention economy:
Really going after FuckJerry would require implicating the whole economic system of attention. In a world in which distribution power gets built through viral influence by any means, the FuckJerrys of the world will exist.
Here's an original comic by @WholesomeNsuch that FuckJerry stole and turned into an Instagram ad for @hesstoytruck without payment or permission on one of their many accounts, "discojerry." #FuckFuckJerry pic.twitter.com/G6xyqzpqL9
— Megh Wright (@megh_wright) February 20, 2019
— Vic Berger IV (@VicBergerIV) February 1, 2019