The young activist at the center of a campaign urging the pope to go vegan has been locked out of her Instagram account, Plant Based News can reveal.
Genesis Butler has made global media headlines this week, following the launch of the Million Dollar Vegan campaign, which saw her write to Pope Francis asking him to go vegan for Lent in return for a $1,000,000 donation to a charity of his choice.
Butler contacted PBN after she was unable to sign into her account. The 12-year-old activist says when she tries to access the platform, it tells her she's been locked out for being too young. According to Instagram's terms of service, users must be 13-years-old. She also says her biography has been changed since she has been locked out of her account.
Freedom of speech
Butler's mother, Genelle Palacio, branded the move 'a violation of freedom of speech'. "My daughter, Genesis Butler, has been restricted from using her Instagram account (@aveganchildsjourneygenesis) one day after the launch of the global campaign, the Million Dollar Vegan," she told PBN.
"She is a minor but I have been actively managing her account since the day I began her account. We have never had a problem with her account until after the MDV campaign was launched. This has been devastating to her because Instagram has been her primary method of speaking to children all around the world who are either activists and would like support from her or children who are interested in going vegan.
"She also receives messages from adults all around the world who would like to stop eating animals and she has been able to help so many people through Instagram. We are asking Instagram to reconsider its actions especially since there are millions of minors under the age of 13 who continue to use it. We feel this is a complete violation of her freedom of speech."
Genesis Butler speaks about the Million Dollar Vegan campaign
Genesis Butler herself added that she is 'devastated' to be locked out of the platform.
"I have used Instagram since the beginning of my activism six years ago and it has remained one of my favorite forms of activism," she told PBN. "Having this taken away from me makes me really sad. I just want to speak up for what I believe it and I hope I can continue doing it on Instagram because it's been so effective.
"Being able to post on Instagram helped me find my voice, please don’t take my voice away from me. All I want to do is save animals and the planet."
Matthew Glover, CEO, Million Dollar Vegan told PBN: "We were very sorry to hear that Genesis’ Instagram account has been threatened with closure, as it has been such an effective platform for her to promote her incredible work with the Genesis for Animals Foundation, as well as other activism projects – which most recently includes the Million Dollar Vegan campaign.
"As the account is controlled by Genesis' mother, Genelle, it is a shame that Instagram has decided that due to age restrictions it should be taken down.
"We hope the situation will be resolved very soon, but in the meantime you can keep up to date with Genesis's work with Million Dollar Vegan by following our Instagram page @milliondollarvegan, Facebook or Twitter."
Plant Based News has contacted Instagram for comment.
You can find out more about the Million Dollar Vegan campaign here