Anya Marquardt is a freshman journalism major who has had her Instagram account hacked multiple times.
Instagram is easily one of the most popular social media apps of this decade. As of June 2018, Instagram has 1 billion monthly users, compared to 130 million monthly users in June 2013. It is the second most-used app after Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2014. So you’d think since Instagram is serving quite a large population, you’d easily be able to get in contact with their customer service team. Unfortunately, it is quite the opposite.
Two weeks ago, I had a very poor experience with Instagram’s customer service. I had to deal with their incorrigible service five times in just one week. Each time I reported a problem with my account, I was just sent an email to reset my password after verifying my account with my phone number. This nightmare only got worse this past Tuesday when my account refused my request to make a new password. It turns out that my email had also been hacked and, although I had my cell phone number listed as a verification, Instagram would not allow me to verify anything on my account. Instead, they only sent me a notification that stated there was a problem with my email when I tried to log in.
The app then redirected me to a page giving possible solutions to my problem, but none of them had anything to do with my situation. The closest solution it gave me was to reset my email password in order to establish a “secure connection” to the Instagram server. However, Instagram refused to recognize my account, and I was abruptly locked out of my account. I looked up Instagram’s customer service number, and when I called it, I came across an automated message stating that Instagram and Facebook no longer offered customer service.
After hours of trying to fix my account, I was able to get back in after using an email from another Instagram account I have because the accounts were linked — which was something I had accidentally done months ago. But, what would have happened to people who weren’t as lucky? I thought that maybe I was one of the only people to experience this hacking problem; but after looking up some solutions online (which didn’t work), I saw that many others also have struggled with hacking issues — especially influencers. There was nobody to help them get into their account; for the number of users that both Facebook and Instagram serve, this is unacceptable.
Online influencers have taken a major hit from these increasing Instagram hacks. Some hackers pose as businesses offering to sponsor a post for the influencer, in turn, receiving the password of the influencer’s account. Sometimes, the hackers would just delete the account after receiving payment for “sponsoring” the influencer. Influencers, who use platforms like Instagram to promote themselves and gain revenue, often turn to secondary resources in order to get their accounts back, including other hackers. Some influencers have shelled out thousands of dollars to these “experts” to get their accounts back. Instagram’s “help” page lists only one solution for this problem: make a new account. For many influencers who make most of their money off their large number of followers, this isn’t much of an option if they want to continue their careers in the way that they originally started them.
Instagram also lists a support email, but responses are rare and scarce, with the few responses coming 24 hours to two months or more after the concern was sent in. They do not respond on any of their other social media accounts, which leads to no actual human interaction for support. A hacker algorithm discovered by Instagram in September 2019 was confirmed to be able to hack over 1,000 Instagram accounts per day. In light of this, Instagram still did nothing about their customer service problems, and hacking is still a continuous problem. As a long-time user of Instagram, I was understandably upset at the multiple hackings of my account, and being shut out of my account. I was concerned about losing personal information or having photos posted without my knowledge. My frustration only grew when I realized that I had no way of receiving any help from the company, and was instead left with a link to a “Q&A” page. This is completely ridiculous, especially since the large increase in the number of Instagram users over the past few years has led to rising creativity levels in hackers. They have created everything from new algorithms and fake login emails to databases filled with usernames and passwords of unsuspecting Instagram users. Instagram needs to have an actual customer service line available to its users because their “help” pages don’t always provide the answers to account problems, which I unfortunately discovered.