Instagram Sued For “Arbitrarily” Deactivating & Suspending a Business’s Accounts

Plaintiff Mickey Lacoste filed a complaint against Instagram and its parent company Facebook for “damages for tortious intentional interference with contractual relations and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.” Lacoste advertises and promotes his business through social media accounts he operates and through other social media users. However, these posts have repeatedly been taken down, allegedly because they violate Instagram’s terms of use. Lacoste said this has hindered his legal and permissible use of his accounts, such as his ability to promote his business and that Instagram’s actions are arbitrary, willful, and intentional.

Lacoste’s business sells lingerie and other items; Instagram does not allow users to post content with nudity. The compalint said “[d]espite the fact that none of Plaintiff’s posts contain nudity, [his] accounts have been continually taken down or suspended, allegedly in violation of Instagram’s terms and conditions of use.”

Plaintiff states that when Instagram removes or suspends his accounts, it affects his “ability to fulfill his contractual obligations” with his business relationships and his ability to advertise and promote his business. Lacoste said he has contacted Instagram multiple times to ensure that his accounts comply with the platform’s terms and conditions. Instagram stated that the content it thought violated its terms and conditions would be deleted from the plaintiff’s account before his account would be reactivated. The plaintiff added that within 48 hours after his accounts were reactivated, they were then deactivated or suspended again.

Lacoste said Instagram was “arbitrarily suspending and deactivating his accounts.” As a result, he “investigated to determine whether his accounts would be suspended or deactivated even if he did not make any posts, and learned that Defendants suspended or deactivated the accounts even if he did not post new content on the accounts.” Afterward, Lacoste identified Instagram accounts that he believed violated the terms of use; he reported those accounts to Instagram for violating the platform’s terms and conditions. However, Instagram notified Lacoste that the posts and accounts he reported did not violate Instagram’s terms and conditions. He asserted that Instagram is policing content in a “non-content neutral manner.”

The plaintiff claims that Instagram’s actions have “intentionally and willfully disrupted Plaintiff’s prospective economic advantage in maintaining his business relationships with Instagram accounts and users…and maintaining a consistent stream of clients and revenue.” Thus, Lacoste accused Instagram of intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.

Lacoste claims that Instagram’s allegedly arbitrary conduct has caused him to suffer economic and contractual damage. He has sought compensatory damages, temporary injunctive relief, and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief preventing Instagram from “arbitrarily and improperly suspending or deactivating Plaintiff’s Instagram accounts,” punitive and exemplary damages, prejudgment interest, an award for costs and fees and other relief as determined by the court. 

The complaint was filed in the Central District of California. Lacoste is represented by the Law Offices of Raoul Severo.