Instagram is under fire after users claim the social media giant failed to swiftly remove gruesome images of 17-year-old social media star Bianca Devins’ dead body.
Devins was killed Sunday morning; authorities say her 21-year-old boyfriend Brandon Clark slit her throat and then posted bloody images of her body to multiple social media channels, including Instagram and the gaming app Discord.
Social media sites tried to remove the images and offensive memes that quickly spread across their platform—but many viewers, including Devins’ own family, still found themselves subjected to the horrific images.
“I have seen the pictures. I will FOREVER have those images in my mind when I think of her,” Devins’ stepmother Kaleigh Rimmer wrote on Facebook, according to ABC News. “When I close my eyes, those images haunt me.”
As of Tuesday, some of the images still were accessible through Facebook-owned Instagram using certain hashtags and searches, Fast Company reports.
Instagram told the outlet that it had put a number of steps in place to try to prevent the spread of the images.
“Our thoughts go out to those affected by this tragic event,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We are taking every measure to remove this content from our platforms.”
Instagram user Lauren MacMillan told Rolling Stone that she had flagged offensive photos of Devins she saw on the social media site, but later received a message saying the images did not violate Instagram’s community guidelines.
“I thought if I reported it it would just be taken down, hence why I was so shocked that it was still up in the morning,” the 19-year-old said.
She went on to say that she was worried some younger children may view the images and could be damaged by what they saw.
“No one deserves to be blatantly disrespected like that,” she said.
Social media influencer Anna Russett told Rolling Stone she had flagged between 10 and 15 accounts just within a 24-hour period.
“I keep checking her tagged photos on Instagram and there’s a new one every five minutes,” she told the magazine.
While some of the reported posts were quickly removed, Russett said she was told others didn’t violate the community guidelines or that the images would stay up with a sensitive content warning.
Devins was an active 4chan user who posted about gaming there and on other platforms. Members of the gaming community have been criticized over the years for for misogyny. Russett said some 4chan trolls have mocked Devins' death.
“There’s so much more violence and abuse around gamer girls than others it seems,” she said.
Many users are trying to combat the gruesome images by posting pink clouds and other pink pictures along with relevant hashtags to try to “drown out” the images.
“Please help drown out the pics by tagging her and using the hashtags,” one meme said, according to Fast Company.
Clark, 21, is facing second-degree murder charges in the case. The couple, who authorities say were in a sexual relationship, apparently got into an argument while attending a concert in New York City after Clark saw Devins kiss someone else.
“The belief is that she kissed somebody at the concert and that’s what upset him,” District Attorney Scott McNamara told local station WKTV.
Utica police began receiving calls saying Clark had posted on social media that he had killed his girlfriend around 7:20 a.m. Police were able to track his location and found him laying on the ground next to a black SUV.
When police began to approach him, he allegedly started to stab himself in the neck while laying across a green tarp that concealed Devins’ body.
Police said after stabbing himself, Clark took out his cell phone and started to take photos of himself laying across the body, posting them online.
He was later disarmed and taken to the hospital where he received treatment and is expected to survive.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.