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SgInstaBabes takes damage control steps, mulls permanent shutdown

Following the shutdown of its Instagram page, social platform SgInstaBabes founder Lai Wee Kiat has revealed that if the page were to go live once again – he would no longer be in charge. The move comes on the back of a recent controversial Patreon campaign the platform started to raise funds to improve its content, and stay “financially sustainable”.

In a conversation with Marketing, Lai said that he is currently taking a break from social media while the platform’s possible revival and revamp is under discussion. He added:

If the account is to go live again, I personally will not be in charge or involved in any of SgInstaBabes’ activities anymore.

“I do think me stepping down from the lead role and [with] the revamp [led] by those taking up my role will make a major difference to SgInstaBabes’ image,” Lai told Marketing. He did not have a confirmed answer as to whether SgInstaBabes will be continued.

In the event that the account does return, SgInstaBabes will also undergo changes in art direction and its rules, and implement stricter and higher age limits, he added. This comes after concerns were raised if the Patreon campaign was “selling sex”, along with concerns regarding the ages of the girls involved in the campaign (the answer is 16 and above for shoots, 18 and above for parties).

As for the Patreon campaign, discussions on whether or not it will be continued are still underway. If it continues, Lai said the team at SgInstaBabes will strive to prove that the entire campaign is “fun and safe for both [its] members and subscribers”.

Typically Patreon campaigns are used for fund-raising purposes for a particular cause or purpose.

This mode of fund-raising has also become popular with online content creators globally as a paid subscription platform for their followers, with additional perks such as exclusive content or merchandise.

For the case of SgInstaBabes, the platform’s Patreon campaign comprises several tiers of donations, the lowest being a US$3 monthly donation with no perks. Subsequent tiers include access to “perks” such as photoshoot albums done with the girls involved on the platform, personal vlogs, invitations to join the shoots as a photographer/spectator and “private hangouts”. The last and most expensive tier includes a monthly yacht party.

When asked about current clients or advertisers, Lai confirmed that there are none at the moment.

Model safety concerns

Addressing concerns regarding the safety of the photo shoots of SgInstaBabes models, Lai said there were no complaints of any photographers harassing, being suggestive or acting inappropriately towards the models.

“Shoots are always done in groups. The Patreon was meant to let our followers to join the shoots, which some of our followers have actually requested via Instagram Stories polls,” he said. The shoots occurred usually once or twice a week.

Regarding the sale of photos, Lai said the move to do so was based on observations from other foreign Patreon pages, where models, content producers, and social media icons offered extra photos and videos for a monthly subscription fee. He added: “There was nothing sleazy about it.”

For the tier which involved parties, Lai added that some of the girls operating on the platform were fond of partying and are open to meeting people in the club/on a yacht. “Again, this is done in groups and there is nothing beyond partying and fun. All in all, we wanted to give our followers a chance to be more involved and also make SgInstaBabes more sustainable,” Lai said.

“It’s sad that the public viewed the only purpose of these benefits as sexualisation and objectification. However, we now know that many of our photos tend to be sexy and have drawn the public to think that way,” he added. The clarification follows a prior statement Lai had posted via the SgInstaBabes Instagram Stories to address several questions posed by netizens following the launch of the Patreon campaign.

Previous SgInstaBabes revamp

Lai also explained the progress of the previous revamp SgInstaBabes was undergoing, which he added was made in a “hasty and inaccurate” manner due to “stresses from the public”.

Main changes involved including members who are 16 and above in the team, with any alcohol-related campaigns/outings reserved strictly for 18 and above. Addressing the fact that the company does have one 15-year old member on the team, he added that it would no longer accept anyone younger than 16.

Lai also addressed news reports and backlash surrounding his personal lifestyle choices.

“I too would like to apologise for my behaviour in the past, which has been brought up recently on social media, with some matters going as far back as seven years ago. Some of the [stories] have been exaggerated, but I know parts of them are true,” Lai said.

“People do change. Since the 2018 revival of SgInstaBabes, I’ve been ensuring that all activities are done professionally and to ensure that there are no doubts of safety, in groups and outdoors,” he explained, adding:

We hope the public will understand that our intentions have been misunderstood on a national level. And hope that they will give us peace.

He also took time to clarify that SgInstaBabes was “not an ‘influencer collective’ and [did] not want to be recognised as ‘influencers’”, referencing media reports published thus far.

“[We are also not] the people behind the recent Get Juiced National Day Video. The Get Juiced managers are good friends of ours though,” he said.

Prior to the SgInstaBabes controversy last year, the community was promoting events such as Ultra Music Singapore and Eden Music Singapore. Marketing understood at the time that DBS previously worked with its event agency partner to engage SgInstaBabes for an on-site activation for Ultra Music Singapore. SgInstaBabes also previously worked with oBike Singapore for digital marketing duties.

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