Instagram suspended my account and won’t tell me why
For the past couple of years, I’ve used Instagram under the username @jimmy. At that account, I’ve posted a pictures of myself, my favorite football team and other cool sightings.
As the platform grew, having such a generic username started to be a little bit of hassle. For instance, I got more or less constant notifications from Instagram someone had tried to reset my password
Currently in my mail I have more than hundreds such emails, though I have deleted them from time to time, so that’s not a full accounting.
Instagram should require that you enter your account email address or mobile number, in addition to your username, in order to send a password reset email.
Another downside to the username was a steady stream of junk mentions (lots of attempts to mention Jimmy Butler “NBA player” and various other people named Jimmy) and people mistakenly tagging me in photos and commenting on my photos.
There was also no shortage of users who wanted to me to give or sell them my username. (What they thought the value would be is unclear.) Those users left me comments and sometimes spam post me, I would eventually block them.
On Wednesday two weeks ago, I opened Instagram and instead of seeing a stream of my friends’ photos, I instead saw a login screen. I flipped to 1Password to grab my credentials and when I tried to log in, I got an error: “Your account has been disabled for violating our terms.”
I tweeted at Instagram a couple times and hoping they might be able to connect me with someone who knew what was going on. I searched their mobile and desktop websites for answers or contact information, and didn’t find any of either. Finally, I submitted a “hacked account” request.
This request actually resulted in a response, which seemed like progress. I got an email with a code and instructions to reply back with a photo showing my face along with a piece of paper showing the code and my name.
The next day I got a response saying much the same thing as the original error message:
I replied back with a message that I wasn’t aware of any terms violations I could have committed, telling them I think it was a campaign to report me, and asking for help.
I’ve heard nothing back.
Maybe you don’t care about me or my @jimmy account, and that’s fine. Compared to people having real problems, this is nothing. But’s it’s complete bullshit that a company like Facebook works so hard to convince you to post your content for years (so they can put ads against it) and then can dispose of you with no notice and no recourse.
I actively used Instagram everyday, My account was set private. I hope this post will be helpful as a future reference to people who have this happen to them.
Tony was fortunate enough to have a friend that knew someone who worked at Facebook.
Credit to Tony Scida for the template and ideas.
Screenshot taken a couple months before, I never broke any part of the TOS. This is what my account looked like when disabled.
Update 6/17: I received help from a Instagram employee. Thank you Tony for the great idea.