Why has Kanye West’s Instagram account been restricted?

Ye at the Paris Fashion Show 2022
Photo by Anthony Ghnassia/Getty Images For Balenciaga

Instagram stepped in to suspend the account of Ye, better known as Kanye West, on Oct. 8, cutting off the songwriter, producer, and designer from his 18 million followers. Meta, the owner of Instagram, hasn’t clarified exactly why West’s account was suspended. However, a spokesperson stated the restriction was in response to a violation of the company’s rules and guidelines.

Meta took action in response to a post West made on Friday, Oct. 7, where he shared what he said was a text exchange between himself and Sean “Diddy” Combs, captioned “Jesus is Jew.” West’s message drew on longstanding conspiracy theories, claiming Jewish people controlled Combs, and it drew instant criticism for being anti-Semitic.

Return to Twitter

Image via Twitter

West instantly bounded back onto rival social network Twitter after a two-year absence. He immediately aimed fire at Meta Chairman Mark Zuckerberg, complete with a photo, while retweeting a welcome message from will-he-won’t-he possible Twitter-owner Elon Musk.  He also posted an enigmatic yet pointed and no doubt rhetorical question, “Who do you think created cancel culture?

As of Oct. 9, West’s Instagram account was apparently active, with 12 posts remaining and, presumably, a lot of old grams in his recycle bin. It remains to be seen if he will stay active on Twitter after Musk’s warm welcome.

It seems like a monthly escalation of West’s behavior. After the start of September, he took to Instagram with screenshots of messages that had ex-wife Kim Kardashian, her former boyfriend Pete Davidson, and the GAP Inc. in their sights. Those posts were soon deleted.

A quarter-month of controversy

A month on and the beginning of October proved even more eventful for the rapper.  

On Thursday, Oct. 6, West appeared in an interview with Fox News conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, who introduced him as a “Christian evangelist.” In the segment, Ye seemed to reference anti-Semitic conspiracy theories when he criticized former pal Jared Kushner for using his time in the White House for monetary gain, including brokering Israeli treaties.

The interview came in response to a “White Lives Matter” stunt West instigated during Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 3. During a launch for his Yeezy fashion brand, West, several models, and conservative commentator Candace Owens wore t-shirts proclaiming “White Lives Matter.” The event was billed as a surprise, and if the designer was after publicity, it worked.  It also drew instant backlash, including walkouts from Jaden Smith and journalist Lynette Nylander. Vogue editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson called the stunt an “incredibly irresponsible and dangerous act.” Combs took to Instagram to make it clear he didn’t think the t-shirts were a joke.  

During the later far-reaching interview with Carlson that leaped around some varied topics, West, in typically understated style, countered that the t-shirts had funny and “a gut instinct, a connection to God and just brilliance.” He reportedly also referred to Black Lives Matter as a scam in a now-deleted Instagram post after the Paris stunt.

By responding to Combs’s criticism, West’s Instagram posts dragged together his two highly controversial and unwelcome lines of the rapper’s rhetoric. Some commentators have suggested that the stunts, interviews, and activity on his social real estate show West has no intention of backing down from one of his most discussed topics: cancellation. 

One question from his return to Twitter may be the most telling.