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If we asked you which social network teenagers get their news updates from, you’d probably say Twitter or Facebook. As these platforms have more capacity for posting links, sharing and discussing news has been part of their culture since their early days. Meanwhile Instagram is known for visual content, style and creativity. However, this is changing thanks to the rise of a new type of Instagram account, known as a flop account, where current affairs are being debated in a uniquely Gen Z way.
While many young people maintain a presence on multiple social platforms, Instagram is a clear favourite. This means it is increasingly becoming a central hub for all forms of social interaction, including some that were previously more associated with other platforms, such as stories, memes and now news.
Each flop account is run by a group of moderators, whose names, gender pronouns and signature emojis are listed in the account bio, much like a magazine’s contributors section. Take for example @toomanyflops_ and @nonstopflops, both featured by The Atlantic in a recent article on this phenomenon. Each moderator has their own opinions, much like a team of journalists on a traditional media publication. In fact, the flop account could be seen as a rebuilding of the concept of the media publication by Gen Z, after it has been dismantled by Millennials.
Flop accounts cover subjects such as politics, gender, sexuality and race, tackling serious issues in the language of meme culture. These accounts don’t have one unified political perspective, and can’t easily be categorised as liberal or conservative. Each post highlights a comment or action perceived by the poster as a flop i.e. a faux pas or fail, according to their personal viewpoint. The term “flop” comes from the entertainment world, where an unsuccessful project or performer is often described as such. These posts demonstrate that Gen Z are a highly opinionated, culturally and politically engaged group, but they are expressing their opinions and pushing for change in a very different way to previous generations.
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