The Brief: Many teenagers are turning to Instagram as a platform to promote and invite people to their parties.

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As Facebook declines in popularity and in order to avoid surveillance from parents and other authority figures, some teenagers are using Instagram to plan and promote their house parties. An article published in The Atlantic details how and why teenagers have turned to this method of party planning. This trend started in Los Angeles but has since become popular in other areas as well. Parties appear to range from low-key kickbacks to high-key ragers resembling illegal nightclubs.

How It Works

Typically, one or more person will open a private Instagram account from which to post information about and invite people to an upcoming party. Usernames for these accounts typically consist of the party’s date and/or location, paired with variations of the word “party,” such as @partydecember31 or @westwoodparty2018. Then, hosts invite friends, acquaintances, and anyone else by following them. Usually, if the hosts accept your request to follow them, it means you’re invited. If hosts follow you, that means that they really want you to come. Some party hosts require people to give shoutouts to the party or follow its hosts in order to be invited. Some hosts charge money at the door as well, usually on a sliding scale – based on gender, how well someone knows the hosts, and whether or not they gave a shoutout.

At some point, the hosts will post the exact time and “addy” – address for the party on the private page so that approved followers can see it. They also will post details and rules about the party such as BYOE, cover charges, and whether or not plus ones are allowed. 

Some Instagram party accounts are solely dedicated to promoting other local party accounts. They often require payment or a shoutout in exchange for their shoutout.

As an app, Instagram is not particularly cohesive for online party planning. Rather, teenagers have adapted their methods of party promotion to the functions of the app in order to take advantage of its other useful aspects. Instagram provides a space with fewer lurking parents than Facebook. In addition, Instagram is the app of choice for many young people, who may not have Facebook or who rarely visit their pages.

This method of party planning can build a significant amount of hype and perceived exclusivity. Hosts can gain more clout, especially if they require their guests to follow their accounts.

Although some parties actually do come to fruition, others get shut down before they even begin. According to one teenager interviewed by The Atlantic, about 60 percent of the parties she sees organized through Instagram are postponed or canceled. These unsuccessful parties may fail due to poor planning, especially when hosts are merely looking to gather more followers and attention, rather than to actually host a party.

This new method involves questionable vetting practices. Teens may focus more on vetting who is cool and uncool rather than who will be the safest party guest/host. Hosts may carefully choose who to invite to their party and ask guests to show their Instagram account at the door as proof that they were invited. However, there is the possibility that people will use this system to show up at a stranger’s house for a party.

Instagram is now an organizing tool for a wide range of college, high school, and even middle school parties. Although the parties themselves are likely not significantly affected by the platform, it is a new way to facilitate under-the-radar parties which come with their own set of risks.

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