Over the last few days, a teenager named Taylor has spent more than a dozen hours uploading north of 900 photos to Instagram. She listens to music or watches TV while she posts the same photos of millennial pink grids, flowers, and cotton candy clouds over and over. Each one is marked with the same user — escty, real name Bianca Devins — whose tagged photos have become a wall of beautiful images and hopeful messages.
In the early hours of Sunday, July 14th, Devins was brutally murdered. Photos of the 17-year-old’s body were posted to Instagram and then spread across Discord, 4chan, and Twitter. While some well-wishers flocked to her account to express their sadness and support for her family, Instagram became awash with ghoulish accounts dedicated to sharing the photos.
As Instagram engaged in a game of whack-a-mole to take down each new photo, Taylor was one of the dozen or so people who started up an account dedicated to cleaning Devins’ profile. These accounts, mainly run by girls and young women, are determined to fight against a horrific form of digital vandalism. “I wanted to do whatever I could to protect [Devins] and her family from having to go through any more pain and protect anyone from seeing the disgusting images,” says Taylor. It also means they’ve become volunteer moderators, regularly viewing disturbing photos, which some say is to the detriment of their own mental health.