There are about 700 million active users on Instagram in the US these days. That means, everything you post has a potentially vast reach, including those ill-advised images that you took on vacation or your last after-work booze marathon. We all know that potential employers look at social media posts nowadays, right?
But, it’s not just when you’re looking for a job that you have to worry. Current employers, school authorities, or any number of institutions can find your questionable Instagram material and hold you accountable for it. In some cases, you could say that revealing posts are likely the result of naivete. In others, it’s more about exhibitionism as the world’s rich and famous compete for ‘cred’ online.
When you reach the level of Instagram celebrity or influencer, you can make a lot of cash for sponsored posts. But – you’re supposed to mention the connection — something a lot of those celebs are apparently forgetting in their haste to cash in. In April 2017, the Federal Trade Commission sent out written warnings to nearly 100 people it called influencers and marketers about their tendency to post sponsored content without labeling it as such.
We live in an oversharing era, and Instagram just makes it that much easier to tell all — and get in trouble for it.
15. Paramedic Behaving Badly
Tatiana Kulikova used to be a paramedic back in 2015. We’re not sure why. We’re assuming that in Russia, as anywhere else, paramedics have to train and study in order to do what they do. So when we’re faced with someone who hates the job as much as Tatiana did, we’re not sure what to make of it. The 25-year-old apparently decided it was fun to take pictures of helpless injured people in the back of the ambulance while she was flipping the bird at them — and obviously, not looking after them. In one, she added the caption “another moron” to a seriously injured accident victim, and in another added, “how I hate my job.” Emergency services officials in Kirov, where she worked, promptly took care of her last complaint by firing her as soon as the Instagram pics were discovered.
14. Defiling Food
We get it. They want you to smile and say thank you to the rude public, and they pay you peanuts to do it. The temptation to get revenge on your fast food employers must be strong. But, we’re not so sure about the wisdom behind posting the evidence on Instagram. Two employees of an Ohio Subway chain were fired in 2013 after posting pics of themselves committing unnatural acts at work. One dude took a picture of himself ostensibly at work with his private parts draped over a Subway bun. “My name is @ianjett and I will be your sandwich artist today,” he captioned the pic. One of his colleagues posted a picture of a plastic bottle, and captioned it, “Today at work I froze my pee.” The posts were made on an account held under a third Subway sandwich maker’s name. Subway promptly fired the pair once the pics became news. @ianjett claimed he’d actually taken the picture at home and faked the work environment, while his buddy admitted to freezing the pee.
13. WWE Cheating Scandal Made Public
WWE announcer Tom Phillips found himself roasted on social media after an alleged affair — or attempted affair — was made public in February 2017. The woman in question took to Instagram to post some of her Twitter DMs with Tom. She claimed that she had begun the online flirtation knowing who Tom was but that she believed he was single. After sharing the news with her girls, they told her Tom was engaged. That’s when she decided to go public with the message that reads, in part, “I had zero idea and I couldn’t be more sorry to the girl involved. You deserve better than this. Apparently nobody is faithful anymore.” She then posted parts of their exchange, which were so explicit they can’t be shared here in full. Let’s just say, Tom makes it very clear that he wants to get together with her in person, and that he’s very, very eager to hook up. Very eager. NSFW eager. Since the scandal became public in February 2017, both parties have set all their social media accounts to private.
12. Cheeky Playmate Pics
Jaylene Cook became a Playboy Playmate after appearing as a feature in the January edition of Playboy Mexico, but she stirred up media interest for a different reason on a trip to New Zealand in May 2017. While climbing Mount Taranaki, the 25-year-old nude model decided to pose wearing only shoes, hat, and climbing gloves while her boyfriend took her pic. The image was posted on her Instagram account, where she has about 385,000 followers. Maori residents of the area called the stunt disrespectful and inappropriate as Mount Taranaki plays a significant role in Maori mythology and is viewed as sacred ground. Climbing is allowed, but it was the naked Instagram self-promotion residents objected to. The Playmate spoke up in her own defense and claimed they’d avoided the summit because of research they’d done on the ancient Maori site. “Being nude is not something that is offensive in any way. It’s natural and pure and it’s about freedom and empowerment.” Her Maori detractors reserved the right to remain offended.
11. Broke Or Die Trying
Like many celebs and other rich people, Detroit rapper 50 Cent likes to flaunt his wealth on social media. In 2015, in fact, he posted several pics of himself with cash, including one where he sits in his hallway beside stacks of cash that spell out “BROKE.” The only problem is, he was also trying to declare bankruptcy at the time. In February 2016, he was summoned to court to explain the image, and of course, the stacks of money in it. The judge commented that she was “concerned about allegations of nondisclosure or a lack of transparency in the case.” Curtis J. Jackson III told the court that all those wads of cash in his pics were fake. The rapper’s financial woes, which he claimed stemmed from ruinous lawsuits, were finally resolved later in July 2016 when the courts allowed him to discharge the bankruptcy after paying off more than $22 million in debt.
10. Rappers Gotta Rap
In 2013, a Brooklyn rapper’s Instagram post led to the largest gun bust in New York City history. Matthew Best, then 26, and known by the stage name Neno Best, used his Instagram account to brag about how many guns he was selling and the piles of cash he was making with his social media enterprise. A web savvy cop narc notified an undercover officer, who used Best’s loose lips to snag a bigger fish — the man who was then the head of a gun-smuggling ring that involved several states. That connection, Adeji Omole, 31, led to two more major busts as they connected the gun smuggling with South Carolina men who were bringing drugs from the South to New York. The year-long investigation eventually brought in 254 firearms, including a fully automatic MAC-11 pistol with a silencer as large as the gun, and two vintage SKSs, a type of semi-automatic rifle dating back to the Soviet-era, along with19 arrests and 552 criminal charges.
9. Tara Reid
Aaron Kaufman, a former executive with Blue Shield Insurance in California, was fired from his job in 2015 after allegations that he’d racked up $100K in expenses on his company credit card. Some of that included vacations and partying with his girlfriend at the time, actress Tara Reid of “Sharknado” and “American Pie” fame. But the kicker, apparently, came in the form of Instagram photos that Reid posted during a company bowling event that she attended with Kaufman. During the festivities, Reid straddled one of the bowling balls in a way that some of the employees felt was inappropriate, and a pic of the stunt went up on social media. The high-profile incident seemed to be the catalyst for bringing much of his extravagant spending to light. Perhaps surprisingly, it was Kaufman who started the legal battle when he sued for wrongful termination.
8. Do Not Like
In May 2017, a middle schooler in Ohio was suspended after he liked a picture of a gun on Instagram. The seventh-grade student was disciplined with a 10-day suspension from school. The gun in question was an airsoft gun, the kind they used to call “BB guns.” In an interview with the media, the boy said that when he got to school the next day, he was patted down for weapons, then sent home with a note explaining the suspension to his angry parents. It sounds extreme, but the school district superintendent spelled it out in a statement to the media: “I assure you that any social media threat will be taken serious, including those who ‘like’ the post when it potentially endangers the health and safety of students or adversely affects the educational process.” Eventually, administrators agreed to lift the suspension after contacting the parents directly.
7. Chris Pratt – Guilty Of Insensitivity
Actor Chris Pratt ran into a wall of social media opposition in May 2017 after an Instagram post. He had an innocent enough intention. Pratt posted a video clip on Instagram and requested that people turn the volume on to listen to it rather than rely on the subtitles. Social media users immediately took to reminding the popular actor that there were over 38 million hearing-impaired people in America who relied on subtitles. Pratt, being a good guy (who’s in the middle of promoting a newly released film) deleted the post and made a full public apology. It seemed sincere, in any case, but Pratt also insisted that he controlled his own social media and that the post wasn’t the work of a publicist.
6. But It’s Art
American photographer Imogen Cunningham began her photography work in the 1920s and has enjoyed a career that’s spanned seven decades. Her work was posted on Instagram to help to promote an exhibition of art photography at the Boston Museum of Fine Art in late April 2017, but instead of helping spread the word about the exhibition, the pictures were plunged in the middle of a controversy. Instagram went so far as to pull the pics, which included views of some of the photographs in the show. The photographs in question were taken in the 1920s and showed the nude torso of a woman. In another picture taken in 1974, Cunningham is shown with one of her models, who is nude. Museum curator Karen Haas posted, “That we’re still fighting the fight for photography to be a work of art is [incredible]. It’s a fight that was taking place at the time these [Cunningham] photographs were initially made and was long ago won.”
5. Cuban Harry
Miami hip-hop producer Harrison Garcia, aka Cuban Harry, aka the CEO of Purple Drank, is in a heap of trouble, and his Instagram posts are at least partly to blame. He was already facing federal prosecution for using his Instagram account to sell what is known as “sizzurp” or “purple drank,” a drink made of codeine and soda when prosecutors filed five additional charges related to illegal guns and drug sales, including selling dope to the likes of Chris Brown and Lil Wayne. In court, the prosecution used Cuban Harry’s many Instagram pics supposedly documenting his high life as a criminal, including shots of sports cars, gold jewelry, and more. In court, Garcia’s lawyer argued that the pics were PR only — that his client was a wannabe who was only trying to claim some kind of street cred he didn’t actually own with the extravagant pics. “My client is a 27-year-old schmuck. He is a kid who talks big and is trying to be something he’s not.” Garcia was convicted of five charges in April 2017.
4. Be Careful Whom You Sponsor
Many of Instagram’s celebrity users make huge dollars with their posts. Kendall Jenner reportedly made a cool $250,000 for a single post endorsing the failed Fyre Festival. Many others were reportedly promised free flights and accommodations for helping promote the aborted music festival. Attendees paid $1,000 up to $250,000 to go to the Bahamian island music festival, where they were supposedly going to rub shoulders with Instagram models. What they found was a poorly managed debacle that was canceled before it began. What happened next was predictable — lawsuits. One of them, a class action suit filed in California, actually names the social media influencers as being partly liable for their clients’ losses. The suit does not name any of them in particular, listing them only as 100 “Jane Does.”
3. Homophobic Hacker
Fans of UFC fighter Jon Jones were confused in 2014 when he apparently unleashed a homophobic rant on Instagram. It all started when a Swedish UFC fan trolled Jones on Twitter. In response, the Swede’s Instagram photos were tagged with comments like “You definitely have sexual identity issues,” “Fag boys,” and “Homosexuality is a sin.” The comments were verified and had been posted by Jones’s account, but the fighter and his manager were quick to say that the Instagram account had been hacked. It was all some kind of misunderstanding, see, and Jones didn’t even have his phone on him at the time. An employee who was said to have done the posting was later fired. Despite the statements, however, many didn’t believe the hacking claim.
2. Nothing Exceeds Like Excess
Jose Rodrigo Arechiga-Gamboa, also known as El Chino Anthrax, was one of the top enforcers for the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, said to be the most powerful in the world. He’s not the only member of the cartel with a fondness for Instagram and ostentatious displays of his wealth, but he may be the first to go down because of it. When he was arrested at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam in January 2014, many pointed to his Instagram account as being the catalyst that led to his troubles with the law. He was traveling from South America under a fake name, and while officials didn’t acknowledge the link, many felt US investigators used the Instagram account to build their case against him. Both his Instagram and Twitter accounts were sprinkled with pictures of El Chino with yachts, expensive cars, guns, and women, including one where he appears with Paris Hilton.
1. Daycare Dilemma
Imagine checking out photos from your kid’s daycare, expecting to find some cute shots, maybe even of your little one. Instead, what you find are pics of your two-year-old with comments that mock him. Can it get any lower? In 2013, two daycare workers in Virginia were fired after a mother found such images of her son posted on Instagram. The toddler, who has delayed speech development, is shown sitting in a high chair and not looking too happy about it. One of the daycare workers had written the caption “He is thinking cuz sure can’t talk.” It wasn’t the only image, and it turns out two of the workers were involved. The images were posted on private Instagram accounts, but they violated the daycare center’s privacy policies — among other rules. We’re hoping these two prizes never get to work with kids again.