My name is Anastasia, and I’m an independent designer. I have been a member of Instagram for the last 6 years, where I have used the platform and the reach it has, to grow my following and increase my brand awareness.
I woke up last week Monday 5th Feb 2018, to make my daily morning post, a longstanding habit of mine, and then have a quick shower. You can imagine my shock when, 20 minutes later I check the app to see the engagement, and found that I was logged out of two of my accounts.
You see, I have two brand accounts of my own (@lovefromcyprus which is my main brand, 6 years active with over 10k followers, and @thismustbe_neolove which is my second brand, active for 2 years with 1500 followers). I also manage @motifjewellerybymetaxa and @gigidahlia for two other small business owners.
My main account @lovefromcyprus and the one I manage @gigidalia both suddenly appeared logged out. I wondered if this was a bug on the app. When I tried to log in, I received this message on both accounts:
Erm…. ok…. it’s a mistake. Panic is slowly creeping in. It’s A bug surely? So I kept trying to log in, but it was to no avail and by this point I was in full blown panic mode! There was no prior warning, no email after the fact to explain what happened, why it happened, who was to blame and what I could do! I was and still am powerless to do anything.
Everything I read online by other accounts that were deleted was that within three or so days, it was restored. They all followed some process and had to upload a photo of themselves holding a paper with their name and account handle. Well I checked ALL the pages of the FAQ, and found no such page. I tried to report my account as hacked, again to no avail.
I am furious, because I grew my account completely organically to 10k, which took me 6 years to do. I can tell you first hand, my company is a one woman show, I do everything myself, I do not have the magic recipe that all these influencers have that get that following overnight. I didn’t use any third party apps to spam people, and I certainly didn’t buy any followers either.
80% of my website views were from my Instagram page, and my site views have dropped 25% since the deletion of my account.
As a small business owner, I completely relied upon engagement from my followers to let them know of my new products and keep people coming back for more. I don’t even want to think about the hours I spent on Instagram, and all the money I gave Facebook and Instagram for promoted posts, because if I do, I think I’d go a little crazy! All this in the name of growing organically.
Now I have created a new page called @alasia.lifestyle and for some reason I cannot make it a business account to gather crucial analytics, I cannot attach it to my Facebook business page, and my friends cannot tag my products in their photos. MY PRODUCTS.
I have reported the bugs, which have yet to be fixed, I get a generic message like this:
Now I have read pretty much, every article out there about disabled accounts, and my impression is, all the influencers that this happened to, had their account reactivated because they/their manager knew someone at Facebook/Instagram to contact directly. Also, the information about getting your account reactivated again is all from 2017 and prior.
Well as I’ve stated earlier, I’m a one woman show, I do not have a team or manager working for me that can call in any favours. Also, these articles were all prior to 2018, so I am not sure if this is an option anymore?
All the FAQ on instagram / facebook eventually leads back to the same bottom line: once an account has been deleted by yourself, someone else or instagram, there isn’t a way to restore it.
I do not know how or why I violated Facebooks T&C or use. I mostly posted my own photos or reposted photos from other users and ALWAYS credited the source and tagged them where possible, after I’d received their permission to do so!
The only thing I can think of, is I have been reported as violating copyright / infringement by another user. If this is the case, Instagram should email you informing you of the report, giving you the opportunity to either explain and rectify, or in the very least, appeal the report. I was given no such warning or opportunity.
Another thought which crossed my mind, is that there may be some out there willing to abuse the report tool. This means that any competitor or rival can keep reporting you until your account gets flagged and deleted, thereby killing any competition. Anyone can report any other users posts or account, and simply mark it as offensive or violating their copyright / infringement. Facebook has an algorithm, I guess?, which will just automatically delete accounts which have been flagged or reported enough times. I don’t know this for sure because they don’t offer any explanation why or how my account was deleted. If a human had checked it, surely it should not have been deleted, surely someone would have contacted me, right?
Facebook deal with complaints in a terrible way, by blocking any communication, and sending you through pages and pages of FAQ with no end to the links. Their ‘no communication’ method is terrible and quite frankly I find it unethical to delete my account without an prior warning, as most of my content was only available there. I mean, this is my livelihood! Their decision has seriously impacted my sales and ability to do business. At the very least my content, since it belongs to me, should be made available for me to access!
It’s been a whole week and I have not heard anything back from Facebook regarding the bug that does not allow me to make my NEW page a business account (if it even is a bug, or am I being blocked from the whole service now?!) and also, I report daily about the bug which does not allow other users to tag my product in their photos (yes, I have checked my settings).
Absolutely NO NEWS on my deleted main account, and as I have not been able to report is as a wrongful deletion, I do not expect to hear back from them, I can’t yet fathom how much their decision will echo through my business sales.
I’ve signed and shared numerous petitions to get Facebook to review their methods. Here is one that you guys can also sign, and hopefully, by 2019… we may be able to avoid this bad practice by Instagram.