Social-media users who reposted Khloé Kardashian's unedited bikini photo speak out after being threatened with legal action

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Debanjali Bose
·6 min read
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khloe kardashian
Khloé Kardashian's team reached out over Instagram direct messages and email, asking social-media accounts to take down posts containing an unauthorized photo of her. George Pimentel/Getty Images
  • Khloé Kardashian's team contacted social-media users this week to demand they delete a photo of her.

  • Insider spoke with reps for three accounts contacted by Kardashian's team.

  • One said their post with the photo was up less than an hour when they received a DM to take it down.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

It's been a busy week for team Kardashian. After a poolside bikini photo of Khloé Kardashian started circulating on Reddit, Instagram, and Twitter, her team confirmed to Page Six on Monday it was actively working to have it scrubbed from the internet.

Kardashian's team said the picture, which appeared to not have been airbrushed or digitally altered, was color-edited and had been posted "by mistake by an assistant."

"Khloé looks beautiful but it is within the right of the copyright owner to not want an image not intended to be published taken down," Tracy Romulus, the chief marketing officer of KKW Brands, told Page Six.

By Thursday, virtually all of the original accounts that reposted the photo had been asked to take the image down, and only screenshots - and the conversation the incident generated - remained.

Insider spoke with the people behind some of the social-media accounts that posted the photo of the reality-TV star and were asked to remove it by Kardashian's team.

"I never really thought I would be getting involved in anything like this, to be honest," the person behind Problematic Fame, who has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram, told Insider.

A representative for Kardashian declined to comment when reached by Insider.

Some accounts said they had the bikini photo up on their feed for only a few hours before Kardashian's team had them take it down

Khloe Kardashian

The people behind the accounts told Insider they were contacted through various channels - some over Instagram direct messages from Romulus, others through lengthy emails.

Problematic Fame, an anonymously run account by a user who describes themselves as a "broke college student who started this account just to pass time in quarantine," spoke to Insider on the condition of anonymity to avoid harassment.

The person behind the account told Insider that they previously have received "death threats and other terrible, threatening messages" from fans of celebrities they highlight on their account, which mainly shares posts about celebrity plastic surgery and photo edits.

The student said they heard from the Kardashians' longtime rep Romulus the morning after they had posted the photo on Saturday to their account.

About the same time, Instagram also notified the account holder that the post had been removed, citing "IP violation," meaning a violation regarding another person's intellectual property.

"We removed your content because a third party reported that it infringes their intellectual property rights," the notice from Instagram, viewed by Insider, said.

But before it was deleted, the post attracted quite a few eyeballs in the brief period it was live on the feed, according to Problematic Fame.

"My post had a pretty good engagement, nearing 10K likes, I believe, in under a day," the person behind the account told Insider via Instagram direct messages.

kim kardashian tracy romulus
Tracy Romulus, second from left, with Kim Kardashian in 2016. Denise Truscello/WireImage

The Good the Bad and the Fake (TGTBATF), an Instagram account that also posts about celebrity photo edits, had a similar experience, they said. After sharing the unauthorized picture to their grid on Monday, the Instagram user running the account, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their personal information, said they heard from Romulus almost instantly.

"I would say the picture was up less than an hour before I received the DM from Tracy," the person managing TGTBATF's DMs told Insider.

According to the person behind the account, their post was ultimately taken down by Instagram, which cited an IP violation, similar to the notice received by Problematic Fame.

On Twitter, Krystal Green, a plastic-surgery consultant who also posted the unauthorized picture, said she received identical emails from both Kardashian's team and Twitter letting her know her post had been removed.

"Twitter deleted it for me and locked my page until I agreed to not post it again," Green told Insider.

The notice from Twitter also contained the initial request from Kardashian's team directed to the social-media account to have the photo removed. That message, obtained by Insider, said the photograph had been taken by Kardashian's grandmother MJ Shannon "in a private location" and "unlawfully posted online, without authorization."

Some of the notices from Twitter and Instagram shared with Insider by Green, TGTBATF, and Problematic Fame attributed the photo's copyright to Shannon, while one said Kardashian held the copyright.

When reached by Insider, Kardashian's team declined to comment to clarify who the copyright owner was.

Khloe Kardashian
Khloé Kardashian in 2019. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Kardashian's team threatened legal action if users didn't take down the photo

In a screenshot of the private message viewed by Insider, Romulus told TGTBATF she would report the account for "bullying and harassment" and get attorneys involved if they didn't delete the photo from their account.

The person behind Problematic Fame said Romulus also threatened legal action against them for posting screenshots of her initial outreach to the account that asked for the photo to be deleted.

"I don't have the money to defend myself," the person behind Problematic Fame said. "I definitely don't have the money to hire lawyers against the Kardashians or anyone for that matter."

A representative for Kardashian declined to comment on Romulus' note to the two Instagram users.

Meanwhile, Green called the whole ordeal "ridiculous and honestly very sad."

"The lengths [Kardashian is] going to, to keep up a false perception of her face and body is concerning," she added.

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Kardashian at the 2019 People's Choice Awards. Amy Sussman/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank

Kardashian responded to the noise around the photo by filming an Instagram Live video showing off her abs on Wednesday

Insider reporter Libby Torres previously reported that Kardashian had been repeatedly accused of photoshopping her Instagram posts. In the past year, social-media users have said a "new Khloé just dropped" and that she edited her face for what they called "Beyoncé cosplay."

In response to her unauthorized photo becoming widely shared, Kardashian went live on her Instagram page Wednesday to share what she said was her "unretouched and unfiltered" body. She also shared a lengthy message in which she opened up about struggling with body-image issues.

"As someone who has struggled with her body image her whole life, when someone takes a photo of you that isn't flattering, in bad lighting, or doesn't capture your body the way it is after working so hard to get to this point," Kardashian wrote, "you should have every right to ask for it to not be shared - regardless of who you are."

She added: "For those else who feel the constant pressure of not ever feeling perfect enough, I want you to know I see you and I understand."

Kardashian's sisters Kim and Kendall and Kylie Jenner left supportive comments, as did many other celebrities, such as Ariana Grande.

Read the original article on Insider