Reading Level: Advanced/College Student
Reading Time: 20 minutes
- Types of bans
- Reasons you might get disabled for on IMVU
- What to do if you get banned on IMVU
- What to do if you earn money from IMVU and get permanently disabled
- How #SaveIMVUCreators impacted IMVU sales
- How #SaveIMVUCreators is negatively being used against IMVU
- Important notes
- How to protect your IMVU account
IMVU is a 3D messenger where users interact with each other, buy clothing, rooms, furniture to enhance their socializing experience. Users can create content that can be purchased by other users and can offer various services. Much like Sims and Second Life, many users immerse themselves and create the best avatar and/or environment to either chat with others, or make a story come to life.
IMVU is available on mobile and it’s growing very fast, with approximately half of users opting for IMVU mobile. As mobile users are usually young people, IMVU has a very large number of teenagers using the app/platform. Every month there are millions of active users, therefore to protect users, IMVU imposes various terms that users must adhere to in order to enjoy the IMVU experience.
Creators are IMVU users who have VIP membership or own a grandfathered account and are able to create content such as: outfits, rooms, avatars, animations, stickers, badges etc. Creators are a special group of users when it comes to rules and regulations because there are more rules to follow if you are a creator and the risks associated with your account are much higher than for a normal user.
2. Types of bans
There are two types of bans:
- temporary bans – ranging from a few days to months
- permanent bans – the account can never be recovered
Temporary bans are usually given for small offenses and you can get back your account when the ban duration is over.
Permanent bans are given for extremely bad behaviour, harassment, theft and repeteadly going against IMVU’s Terms of Service.
When an IMVU user is banned, their IMVU account can no longer be accessed and they will face an error which will point out that the account has been disabled.
IMVU bans are widely referred to as “getting disabled”.
3. Reasons you might get disabled for on IMVU
There are several reasons one might get disabled on IMVU. Both normal users and creators must follow IMVU’s Terms of Service.
As a creator, there are more rules than regular users to follow because the content created must be compliant with IMVU’s Creator Terms of Service. The points below highlight general reasons why one might get disabled and what sets creator bans apart from other types of bans.
Reasons for getting banned on IMVU include:
Purposely offending people, harassing, bullying users/staff, posting inappropriate content can lead to getting disabled (this also applies to forum/group posts and avatar images).
The same applies for users who instigate to bad behavior.
Please note that lying about your age to either have access to adult content or pretending to be a kid results in a permanent ban.
As the offense might be minor or very serious, the ban can either be temporary or permanent.
2. Buying credits from anywhere else other than www.imvu.com
You are not allowed to buy credits from other users or platforms that are not www.imvu.com.
Note: Buying custom products (asking creators to make you a custom product) and paying with money is allowed. The rule only applies to IMVU currency being exchanged outside IMVU for money or goods.
3. Selling credits
If you are a user or a creator who sends IMVU credits to other users in exchange for money, you will be permanently disabled.
4. Account sharing
IMVU does not allow users to share accounts, regardless if the users are under 18 or adults.
You should never allow anyone to use your account and you should never engage in the smallest action on someone’s account.
5. Hacking and/or using illegal/malicious websites
You are not allowed to ask users for personal information that might put their account at risk (or their own being for that matter).
You are not allowed to use illegal content such as products that are unfit for IMVU (usually it is adult content hidden and secretly gifted to a small group of people).
6. Security reasons
If you go on holiday to a new place and log in to IMVU, you might be shocked to log in and realize you are now disabled.
This has actually happened to me when I went on vacation to Istanbul, Turkey and logged in on all of my IMVU accounts. I got temporarily disabled as a means to protect my account.
The following reasons are common for creator accounts:
7. Submitting content unfit for IMVU or deliberately making adult content pass as general audience content
Creators are not allowed to submit adult content and mark it as general audience, i.e. to be purchased by every user, regardless of age.
8. Theft & DMCA takedowns
Users are not allowed to use credit/debit cards or other types of payment to purchase IMVU credits and/or services. For example, borrowing your mother’s credit card to buy some IMVU credits might get you disabled.
Users are not allowed to steal or use content for which they do not have rights. For example, extracting the texture from a skin and using it to create your own product with the same texture or edited is theft.
Using brand names, patterns, designs or any other type of resource which is patented and for which you do not have the rights to use is considered theft and therefore illegal.
In short, you are not allowed to use the Gucci logo to make a t-shirt or any other type of product.
9. Boosting products
There are creators who boost their own products. They do this by sending credits to several other accounts, and then purchasing a specific product to make it a hot product.
Hot products are the top selling items on IMVU.
The algorithm for hot products has two main factors: the number of sales the item gets and the time in which the sales are made. From my observations, it’s usually a period of 48 hours with >1 factor for the last 24 hours, meaning the sales in the last 24 hours are most valuable, with the hot product whole factor being calculated for around 48 hours.
10. Buying IMVU files in exchange for credits
You cannot buy resources or any other goods using IMVU’s currency. That means that if you are planning on buying a baby hair mesh, you are not allowed to purchase it for IMVU credits. However, you are allowed to buy it in exchange for money or any other type of payment (as long as IMVU currency is not involved).
You can buy IMVU files such as textures, meshes, patterns and other resources if IMVU currency is not involved in the transaction. More precisely, you can buy resources that you can use on IMVU, as long as you do not send IMVU credits in exchange for the goods.
Please note that in this scenario, IMVU is not responsible to verify whether the files you are purchasing and planning to use on IMVU are legal. This is your responsibility.
4. What to do if you get banned on IMVU
Usually, getting banned should not come as a surprise, as bans are actually very common. Most bans should be expected by the user for the reasons highlighted in the previous point.
- Check your email
IMVU sends a general e-mail to let a user know the reason they have been banned. Usually, the information in the e-mail is rather limited.
After getting disabled, the email usually arrives in 10-15 minutes. It is not an instant notification.
- Verify your IMVU access
It’s not always that the email is accurate. Check to see if you have access to the app, but also try logging in to the desktop version (www.imvu.com).
- Open a support ticket
Assuming you believe you should not have gotten disabled, the next step is to open a support ticket. However, because your account is disabled, you lose your access to use IMVU, therefore you will be required to make a ghost account. After you create a new account just to submit a ticket, the first thing staff will ask you is to verify your identity. You will need to provide proof that you are the owner of the account terminated. The information you will need to provide includes: initial email address used to sign up for IMVU, the exact birth date of the account, last forms of payment used (in some scenarios they might ask for the type of credit/debit card used and the last 4 digits from the card number). Only after you verify with support your identity, will they be able to provide more information on the ban.
- Contact the community managers
In some cases, usually for creator bans, opening a ticket might be useless because the support team might not provide sufficient information on why the account was terminated. Community managers are staff members that usually post announcements and engage with users and creators in the IMVU Discussions Area. Community managers are much more knowledgeable about creator issues and they might be able to provide more information or more help if your creator account has been permanently terminated.
- Escalate your ticket
Escalating your ticket means that you request the support team to find a different support person, usually higher in rank, or at least more knowledgeable, that can help you with the exact reason on why your account was terminated.
- Don’t back down
The role of the support team is to close cases as fast as possible, not to solve cases. Never ever think that the two are the same thing – they are not. I have broad experience with corporations and the support team is usually being pushed a lot of tickets and the goal is to close them as soon as possible and also have a high customer satisfaction rating. That means that the person analyzing your case might need to go through 50 more tickets by the end of the day. They will probably give you a robotic answer.
Sometimes it’s their fault for not caring enough to help, other times the system is hard on the support people that they have nothing else to do than to do a very quick and superficial check on why you got disabled.Do not back down.If you are not getting the answers you are looking for, keep messaging them, keep stating your arguments against theirs.
5. What to do if you earn money from IMVU and you get permanently banned
This is, without a doubt, the most horrific scenario to be in for an IMVU ban. IMVU creators are users who spend a lot of money and time to get their account to a certain level (to own a variety of products), then spend time creating, even earn real money from IMVU and then get banned.
Many people are unaware of all the reasons one might get disabled on IMVU. Before getting angry, make sure you read the whole article to understand whether you might have done something illegal or not. Most creators who are banned are either using branded/stolen content, or they are selling credits for money. If you are in this scenario, there’s not much you can do about your ban, but you might be able to negotiate with IMVU.
I know quite a handful of creators that have their catalogs full of stolen products (extracted textures, meshes and/or slight edits on stolen content) and have gotten disabled. Funny enough, many of them actually have posted on social media to ask for help, but personally, I have no pity for them, nor should anyone else. You play shitty games, you win shitty prizes. However, there might be scenarios where someone has stolen content ages ago, got back on the right path of being genuine and hard working and the past is haunting them today. Unfair? Probably, or most likely if the sales you made were from the genuine content created. What do you do then? Some creators have thousands of dollars stuck due to MASA, which is IMVU’s limit of how much they can pay a creator based on the income they made.
Nonetheless, not every creator who gets banned has done something wrong – and this is why the #saveimvucreators movement was created.
In my Is IMVU Safe for Children article I describe how IMVU can get a creator banned for one single pixel – no exaggeration. The Minimum Coverage Guidelines is a bikini template that covers the private parts for female and male avatars. Even if you cover the image provided by IMVU itself, due to bugs in the product, the MCG might leak, and thus some pixels might bleed (show up blurry). This will make the product Access Pass, however, you tested visually that the MCG in Photoshop looked covered, so you submit the product as General Audience. This puts your account and your whole work at risk. The cause? IMVU’s low graphics that generate a bleeding MCG, although you actually fully cover the image reference provided by IMVU itself.
If you find yourself in this scenario as a creator getting disabled, make sure you go through all the steps from point 4. If every step fails, insist on point 4.4 to contact the community managers. You will most likely feel depressed, hopeless and alone. Don’t. You need a clear mind and all the energy you have to fight back.
Contact other creators you know about that have gone through the same thing. If you do not know anyone, do not feel ashamed to post on social media, or message a creator in private and ask for help or advice.
Unfair DMCA takedowns and re-rates
Have you ever noticed that a very popular creator from whom you have been shopping from for years can no longer be found in the shop?
It’s most likely that person was a victim of false DMCA takedowns and unfair product re-rates.
Creators that have been active for years and have made a name for themselves are most of the time hard working people and it is shocking to see their shop suddenly gone. 99% of the cases it’s due these two external factors that are also abused.
DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a copyright law that criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works. In simpler terms, it protects original art and punishes those who steal or use it when they have no rights.
A DMCA takedown notice is a document through which the original owner of a creation states they own all rights for the creation/art referenced and include websites where their work has been used without their consent.
On IMVU, the DMCA takedown notice is signed with a full identity and you must provide the original product link and links to the products that have stolen in part or the whole original creation/have been used without your consent.
Re-rates happen when a product which is available in the shop as General Audience gets flagged and is re-rated to Access Pass Only. In most cases, re-rates are justified, however re-rating can be extremely subjective, such as: mesh private parts MCG area (some meshes have the MCG area bigger than others which can be very subjective in analyzing just the MCG red parts issue), skin-colored MCG (having a beige or a maroon texture for the MCG area can get the product flagged and re-rate, as it might be considered “blended nudity” and others.
Recently, there has been a movement to support IMVU creators against IMVU’s banning policies.
The hashtag was created by IMVU user Pastel in February 2021 after a significant number of creators who are also present on social media were disabled. Pastel also became the voice of the movement which aims to bring visibility to the injustice some creators face based on false DMCA takedowns and losing their income.
The movement quickly became popular on Instagram and IMVU’s creator team responded to the movement with the following statement:
As part of the #SaveIMVUCreators movement, some users have asked IMVU users to stop buying IMVU products. Similar to cancel culture, instigating users to stop buying products/credits/services from IMVU in theory is meant to raise awareness and to hurt IMVU’s business. In reality, it hurts everyone involved, especially creators, the ones that people actually wanted to save, ironically.
It’s true that big creators are afraid of letting their voices be heard, because no one wants to go against a full system when your income is provided by that system.
From personal experience and the amazing creator community I know, we are all aware of the bad things that happen and can happen at any point. Here’s a list:
IMVU’s MASA is a good idea in theory, but it’s a horrible implementation for the creators that make a living from IMVU – to the point that it can be considered theft on IMVU’s side.
To be more precise, if a user signs up to become a creator, they will run into a 500$ limit to cash out their money (default MASA rate for every new account). The idea is actually good only for short term and the logic behind it is that if you are a new creator and you suddenly make 7000$ per month, you won’t be allowed to cash out all that money because it seems a bit suspicious. It actually does seem a bit suspicious. However, if you are constantly at 7000$ per month for 10 months, you should be able to cash out your money, right? After all, you’ve kinda proved IMVU that you are not that suspicious since you managed to have a constant high income and you haven’t done anything to compromise your account. Well, IMVU disagrees, because if you make 7000$ for 10 months, after 10 months, you will probably have around 20,000-30,000$ in your bank accounts instead of 70,000$ – this is because IMVU’s MASA grows slowly and is capped at 10,000$ per month.So, what happens to the rest of the money? It stays in your account until you cash out the next month and the next month and so on. If you stop creating completely and earn nothing for the next 6 months, you will still be cashing out the available balance that you had. Your MASA will go down, meaning that it will take you longer to cash out all the money that you made in 10 months.
Opening a ticket to request your money will not make any progress on this, as your balance will be stuck. MASA is in place for people to create constantly and steadily (big spikes in sales might be good, but IMVU’s MASA hates this and you end up having a lot of money simply stuck because IMVU will not allow you to cash out your own money).
IMVU’s 25% MASA raise during Covid was a small fraction of their new, very high income with Covid-19.
IMVU’s daily sales in the first couple of months of Covid in 2020 were at least double than the average days before Covid. IMVU offered a 25% MASA increase, while keeping the 10,000$ cash withdrawal limit per month. In simpler terms, 25% was 4 times less than what they were making and a couple of times less than what every creator was making (since the sales IMVU was making were from creators).
Not only this, but IMVU’s finance team was already giving away up ~25% more of the MASA for medium sums. For example, if you had a MASA of 650$, an available balance of 2000$ and requested a payment of 800$, there were high chances the request could be approved and you would cash out 800$. With the implementation of the 25% MASA during Covid, this extra cash removal was removed and replaced with the increase.
This means that the people who genuinely benefitted from the 25% increase were the high earning creators that were cashing out thousands of dollars, creators whose sales also doubled, tripled or quadrupled, meaning the 25% increase was much less than the initial estimation of 4 times less than what IMVU was making.
IMVU’s MASA limit is very similar to how banks work, therefore a low income for IMVU means a lower income for creators. Banks use your money to bet on the stock market, just like Wall Street does. If you make a deposit of 10 million dollars today, you will be unable to cash out 10 million dollars tomorrow due to bank limits (which you are aware of when creating your bank account) and, in reality, the harsh truth that the bank actually used some of your money. It will tell you to wait 10 days to give your money back.
If this practice is that common, what is the issue with IMVU’s MASA?
It’s a horrible implementation because we are not generally talking about very large amounts of money for independent creators. There aren’t that many creators who earn a lot of money, but in the grand scheme, IMVU does have to pay everyone. The issue is that the available cash balance is held in place much longer than someone would expect. If you start creating on IMVU full time and get spikes in sales, the system is made in such way that you need to start losing money, but at the same time keep creating until you can cash out all the available money. This is wrong and a bit hypocritical since you might have 500$ stuck in your balance, but 100 brand new accounts would have absolutely no problem cashing that amount out.
2. False DMCA takedowns
While the DMCA system is put in place to protect original artists/creators, DMCA agents do not verify whether the owner of the DMCA takedown is actually the original artist. This leads to people abusing the DMCA system by pretending to be the original owner and submitting DMCA takedowns (in this specific case, the DMCA takedowns are false) to targeted creators.It doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Well, it’s bad. If it’s a handful of products, you might not get disabled right away, but if someone puts a whole list against you, you get disabled before being able to make a counter DMCA notice (to write back to the DMCA notice and show proof that you are the original creator).It has happened for a very popular hair creator to get a DMCA notice that targeted tens of thousands of products. That is straight up abuse and harassment.
3. No deadline to counter false DMCA takedowns
As stated earlier, if you get a DMCA takedown notice containing multiple products, you might get disabled right away, before you can prove your innocence.
4. Subjective MCG re-rates
In 2019, the creator community was shocked to discover some new changes added to the creator Terms of Service that no one had known about. More precisely, there are parts in the terms agreement that can be interpreted from product to product, this lead to creators getting disabled for using a beige/brown/pale pink color for the MCG. IMVU support argued that these colors were against the ToS. In specific situations, some products with a nude-colored MCG can be very blurry for General Audience, such as:
While the product does have a MCG which covers the red parts as instructed by IMVU, the color is nude, meaning that it blends in with the skin and it might seem that the top is only made out of straps to cover the breasts. However, while I do understand this is subjective, IMVU does not offer a clear list of the colors which would be accepted for MCG.
Following this subjective logic, no color should be allowed for the MCG layer. Maybe some people are wearing a green skin, thus a green MCG might produce the same visual reaction that might make a product look AP, when it is actually GA. Most creators use white and black (I also advise to use these colors), but it can still be very subjective – there are extremely pale skintones in the catalogs, as well as extremely dark ones.
5. Subjective banning
After the creator community figured out people were getting banned for the nude MCG, it was discovered that the implementation of the ban was also subjective. Some creators only had the item re-rated, others had cash withdrawn from their balance (because IMVU refunded people after re-rating the item), others got disabled. Same offence, different implementation.
6. No specific limit for wrong products in the catalog
How many wrong products is too many? If a creator that has 100 items in shop in total has 10 products which are re-rated, they might not have gotten disabled yet, although 10% of their catalog has wrongly rated products.
If a creator that has 18,000 items in shop gets 20 products re-rated over the course of 5 years, they might get disabled, although the faulty products only make up 0,11% of their catalog.
7. Creators lose their balance when they get disabled
If you have an active cash balance and you get disabled, you lose your balance due to MASA holding your money for so long. It doesn’t matter that the money you had pending had nothing to do with the 3 reported products of yours, IMVU will not allow you to cash out your money.
Of course, there is a bit more information to be added here, as IMVU does have a system in place for creators that get banned for a longer period of time (years). I know no case in which a creator got a ban for a long period of time and limited and not worry about cashing out their balance sometime in the future. The cases I personally know of are short-term bans and permanent bans. It is important to point out that high earning creators that have gone through such a scenario have permanently lost their accounts and the associated cash balances.
7. How #SaveIMVUCreators impacted IMVU sales
It didn’t. IMVU’s daily sales can easily be calculated, however for maximum accuracy, the user doing the math should be a creator with around 600 sales a day.
I checked the data for the last few days, compared it to a week ago and the data I’ve been tracking for a while. The movement #saveimvucreators has not had a significant impact on sales, or any at all.
The data I used comes from my daily sales and it has a minimum and maximum 5% error factor and even taking its min and max, it shows no significant impact. This means that regular IMVU users continued shopping as normal.
Note: To calculate the daily IMVU sales, check the pended credits/cash report, pick the first transaction of the day and the last one, then substract the Transaction IDs. Only use full days to have an accurate estimation for a full day.
However, this does not mean the movement cannot or will not have a noticeable impact. As a matter of fact, it did. IMVU replied, staff is aware, so are IMVU executives most likely. This was the goal too.
Looking forward, the movement should not be used to boycott IMVU, as it will do more harm than good.
Not only this, but going after people on social media for not sharing or posting content in support with #SaveIMVUCreators does not give you a right to insult them.
Similar to the Black Lives Matter movement which was big on IMVU too, the goal was to raise awareness against discrimination, against racism. The solution? For people to be kinder, more accepting, to be fair to each other. Users were purposely creating posts such as “if you are reading this and you are not sharing it, you are everything what’s wrong with humanity”. No. Not at all. Those types of posts are actually very manipulative and hurtful, as they try to focus the attention on the movement itself, not what the movement stands for, which is what actually matters.
So no, creators or other users refusing to share on social media posts that bring awareness are not bad people. The bad people are those who believe that a user abstaining from commenting is part of the problem. They are not.
Furthermore, if you stop buying, you are not hurting IMVU, you are hurting creators. Creators already have full paychecks pending from IMVU. A lower income for IMVU can mean lower MASA growth for a creator.
If you stop posting on IMVU and/or taking part in various events, the only thing you are boycotting are your own chances of winning or having fun at the event. There are thousands of entries for contests, tens of thousands of feed posts every day. The people who care about the creator community represent a minority of IMVU.
Please also note that only a tiny fraction of the creator community is directly affected by the DMCA abuse. While the rest of creators are not directly affected, most of them are genuinely concerned and do not speak up for fear of losing their accounts or becoming targets.
If you really want to make a positive impact, go have fun. Go take part in events, go post that cute picture, go shop, but do it carefully. Avoid branded content, don’t support creators you barely know, avoid deriving from creators that have not yet established a good reputation for themselves or have established a bad reputation.
8. How #SaveIMVUCreators is negatively being used against IMVU
While the movement is, in theory, a great way to raise awareness for the creator community, there have been voices that have gone against everything IMVU is.
More precisely, users are using the hashtag to complain about the income for creators and how some creators that have been permanently disabled cannot get their accounts back.
This whole movement started with a noble idea, so why are people complaining that creators are being paid 4$ per 10,000 credits, when IMVU sells 10,000 credits for 10$? You knew about this when you signed up. You knew about the derivation process before you agreed to become a creator. Why is this a topic now? To me, it seems that people just want to get their frustration out there and are absuing the whole idea behind the movement. If you are concerned about higher rates for creators, advocate for that, don’t use the creator community now to share any kind of frustrations you might have regarding IMVU. Some users have also been complaining about high prices on IMVU. I find this amusing since the average user has hundreds of products in their inventory and go on shopping sprees several times a week.
Secondly, many creators who have been recently banned should have seen this coming. I did careful and intensive research. Many of you had most of the items in the catalog branded and/or stolen content. Please don’t advocate for creator rights if you are in this category. The only thing you should do is to start over, work hard for a couple of years, deserve the income you earn, then advocate.
9. Important notes
IMVU or other creators/users cannot and should not give legal advice for specific cases.
Filling false DMCA claims against creators is a crime and it is punishable with very expensive fines or prison up to 5 years.
Hiding your real identity behind false DMCA claims does not protect you from lawsuits – it actually increments the criminal charges.
DMCA lawsuits are common. They are expensive, but there are plenty of law firms that will do it for free and when the case is won, they will take a high commission.
10. How to protect your IMVU account
Report people that have a bad behavior
Do not click on links from people you do no trust
Derive from trusted creators
Use white/black MCG
Always rate a product as Access Pass Only if you are not 100% sure it is General Audience
Do not use extracted textures or meshes
Do not use branded content
If you are looking for inspiration, always inform yourself of any patented resources the brand might have and avoid them
Do not buy resources you are planning to use for IMVU with IMVU credits
Do not buy credits outside IMVU