An anonymous Instagram account that aimed to take down the advertising world’s sexual harassers may soon be unmasked – CNBC

An anonymous Instagram account that aimed to take down the advertising world’s sexual harassers may soon be unmasked – CNBC

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The people behind an anonymous Instagram account that shook up the advertising industry with its attempts to take down alleged sexual harassers appear one step closer to being revealed. Over a year ago, the advertising industry was fascinated and unnerved by the emergence of an anonymous Instagram account called "Diet Madison Avenue." The account aimed to expose sexual harassment and discrimination at ad agencies. It claimed it was run by a collective of 17 men and women working in the ad industry, with the help of more than 40 others. Its profile at one point included a link to whistleblowers' rights and the words: "Exposing sexual harassment & discrimination in ad agencies since Oct 2017, cuz HR won't. Stories researched & confidential." After being fired as the chief creative officer of ad agency Crispin Porter Bogusky in Boulder, Ralph Watson filed a defamation lawsuit against the Instagram account in May 2018. In it, he claimed Diet Madison Avenue's defamatory statements led to his wrongful termination from the agency, which is part of holding company MDC Partners. The Instagram account's Stories called him a sexual harasser and claimed he targeted and groomed women. .

Since then, Watson has also filed a lawsuit in New York against individuals he claims are behind the Instagram account that live in the state (plus one allegedly living in Illinois and a business entity), as well as his against former employer. What happens next in the case could hold bearing on how freely individuals post online believing that they're anonymous. And the unveiling of the individuals behind the account will no doubt send shockwaves through an industry for which Diet Madison Avenue helped kick off a "Me Too" reckoning. The account primarily broadcast many messages through Instagram Stories, where it would affix pig noses on photos of male ad leaders and tell ad agencies "we're watching you." After their names were blasted to thousands of followers by Diet Madison Avenue, some big names in advertising separated from their agencies, including Droga5 chief creative officer Ted Royer, former Wieden & Kennedy London chief strategy officer Paul Colman, Martin Agency chief creative officer Joe Alexander and Watson. The Instagram account has not posted a photo since 2018 and did not respond to a direct message for comment. In August, Watson's obtained a court order to issue subpoenas to Facebook, Instagram and ....

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