Tati Bruening, also known as @illumitati, has been a coveted voice of and advocate for Gen Z since the inception of her career. Tati began her digital journey in 2013 with zero followers and has now amassed a broadcast strength of 3,000,000 supporters across platforms. Her creator name and unique persona speak to her mission statement: celebrate individuality, collectively.
Recently – in order to compete with short-form video content app giant, TikTok – Instagram released a beta that favored video content. Professional photographer by trade, Tati found her photos underrepresented by Instagram’s new algorithm. Instagram had abandoned its fundamental community characteristics, surprising unsuspecting users with feeds full of sponsored content, targeted ads, “viral” clips, and suggested accounts to compete with TikTok’s model. These changes were made without regard for user preferences or interest in personal curation — qualities native to the platform.
In a day and age where everyone has the opportunity to be a creator, this kind of media arbitrage has resulted in even more people left feeling unseen. Those who dedicate their resources to producing resonant images are buried by corporate content — the messages of their images are unheard. Platforms like Instagram are no longer democratic in determining authentic popularity based on engagement. Instead, they are flavored by the commercial interests of Big Tech companies.
Why does this matter? The content and culture we consume are no longer created, inspired, and primarily distributed by the users they are meant for. We are faced with the consequence of feeling more disconnected and isolated than ever — a far cry from the connective state social media platforms were initially built to foster amongst communities. With decreased access and exposure to content posted by the people we choose to follow, know, and celebrate, loneliness is exacerbated. What is social media without cultivating socialization?
Tati will be auctioning off this piece of digital history with the mission of allocating profits to underrepresented artists who work to create art for platforms that foster community. Proceeds will go to the VFILES FOUNDATION, a NYC non profit focused on incubating and empowering young creators in underrepresented communities through grants and education.
It took one user to start a movement. What is to come once each user recognizes the power of their voice?
THIS IS THE POWER OF THE INDIVIDUAL. THIS IS THE POWER OF COMMUNITY.
THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING... THE FUTURE OF THE MOVEMENT WILL ENCOMPASS INCLUDING TO REPRESENT THE VOICES OF THOSE THAT PUSH CULTURE FORWARD.
TIMELINE OF THE MOVEMENT:
3:10 PM EST: “Make Instagram Instagram Again” posted to the @illumitati account
& Created created Change.org Petition hoping for 1500 signatures.
2:20 PM EST: Post hits 110,000 shares and 230,000 likes
4:04 PM EST: Post hits 285,000 likes
4:28 PM EST: First video update post by @illumitati, ultimately garnering views
6:24 PM EST: Original post hits 1,000,000 likes
8:17 PM EST: Kylie Jenner shares post to IG story
9:32 PM EST: Kim Kardashian posts to IG story
2:13 AM EST: First major press articles – the movement has now been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, CNN, New York Times, Business of Fashion, Vogue, MSNBC, ABC, BBC and Business Insider – are
made addressing the movement
5:15 AM EST: Kourtney Kardashian shares post to IG story
5:59 PM EST: CEO Adam Mosseri posts an Instagram Reel addressing the movement
11:42 PM EST: Second video update by @illumitati
3:31 PM EST: CNBC reports Meta revenue miss and forecasts second straight quarter of declining sales
2:58 PM EST: The Verge releases interview with Adam Mosseri: Instagram walks back changes: A test version of the app that opened to full-screen photos and videos will be phased out and Instagram will also reduce the number of recommended posts in the app as it works to improve its algorithms.