Discover Earth hacked
One of the world’s leading travel influencers on Instagram (2.5M followers — @DiscoverEarth) has been down for 3 months now. In fact the account was hacked and has been disabled, the followers were sold and transferred to another account.
My name is Robin Finger (founder & C.E.O.). I first started Discover Earth as a hobby in 2013. I used to travel around the world and capture its beauty through his lenses via photographs, videos and always manage to meet famous photographers on the road. I then thought, why not create a collective of photographers where only travel photography is featured @DiscoverEarth.
After 4 years of sharing the best photos every day, I reached 2.5M followers. Today Discover Earth is the place where every travellers/photographers get inspiration for their next adventures. Its popularity led to a collaboration with global brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Kempinski Hotels, Hertz, countless tourism offices and airlines. Discover Earth is not only a travel influencer but also a digital agency (Discover Earth Sàrl) which helps companies to get the same success as with social media. This agency is currently based in Switzerland which is led by my brother, Arvin and myself.
My success created some competition, and one day a hacker decided in just a few clicks steal my account and sell my followers.
While checking Instagram if my Instagram account reappeared, a new account emerged from nowhere with the same name and biography: Let’s venture the unexplored together! In just 3 days. Said account received 300k new followers which was really strange. Then after analysing the followers, I realised that these were my followers which were transferred to this new account. For example, my grandfather (who’s not active at all) who only followed the original account Discover Earth, somehow followed this new account. I called him and asked if he followed this account, and he replied no, he was inactive for a month. This was the same case with a lot of my friends who were faithful followers of the original account.
I’ve been trying to get in touch with Instagram/Facebook via my friends who have contacts there, and Instagram gave me access to this fake account. The owner of this account, furious about this, sent me a shocking document: An asset purchase agreement.
The hacker/seller pretended to be me and made him sign a contract.
I sent all these information to my contacts at Instagram, and all they can say was: This is a really complex issue and that they are doing their best to resolve it.
Now all my projects with global brands are currently pending. Consequently, Instagram is no longer secured anymore. If your account gets hacked, there’s no way for you to recover it. This particular case never happened before, and only Instagram has the ability to disable the account and transfer followers to other accounts.
It seems that I’m not the only one who’s been hacked lately, a fan page for Lamborghini (@lamborghini_motorsports) with 4M followers, had the same issue.
I now have the control of the account that bought 300K of my followers. Unfortunately, I could no longer track the other 2.3M (hard-earned) followers and don’t have the engagement I used to get some few weeks ago. I hope that justice will prevail in the end and that Instagram will find a solution to recover my account and followers. Please help me spread the word if you know anyone at Instagram.
Some tips that I recommend for you to avoid this problem in the future:
Tip #1: Don’t use any third-parties application that ask your Instagram passwords (except UNUM App)
Tip #2: Activate your two Authentication factor.
Tip #3: Change your password every month.
Tip #4: Come to me if you’re having the same issue, I might have perhaps found the solution by then.
Robin Finger / Founder Discover Earth Sàrl