Instagram User With @Metaverse Handle Says Account Was Disabled After Facebook Rebranding

An Instagram user with the @metaverse handle says her account was disabled after Facebook rebranded.

For the past nine years, Australian artist Thea-Mai Baumann has run an Instagram account that recently became some of the most sought-after real-estate on the internet: @metaverse.

In November, days after Facebook announced that it was rebranding as Meta and creating Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual dream world — known as the metaverse — Baumann’s account disappeared without warning.

The artist told The New York Times that, when she tried to log into her account on November 2, an alert told her: “Your account has been blocked for pretending to be someone else.”

She told the newspaper: “This account is a decade of my life and work. I didn’t want my contribution to the metaverse to be wiped from the internet… That happens to women in tech, to women of color in tech, all the time.”

The artist also has an Instagram account for her hologram fashion brand named @metaversefashion. The earliest post on that account dates as far back as October 2017, years before Zuckerberg hard-launched his rebrand and perhaps even before Facebook internally discussed the new direction.

The company changed its name to reflect its goal of expanding into the metaverse, a futuristic virtual landscape where people can live, play, and work with digital avatars.

Now that her account has been resurrected, Ms. Baumann plans to fold the saga into an art project she started last year, Pst_Lyfe, which is about death in the metaverse. She’s also considering what she can do to help ensure that the metaverse becomes the inclusive place she said she had tried to help build.

“Because I have been working in the metaverse space for so long, 10 years, I just feel worried,” she said. She fears, she added, that its culture could be “corrupted by the kind of Silicon Valley tech bros who I feel lack vision and integrity.”