Instagram users have reported having their entire accounts suspended or deleted without warning, with no chance to save or back up their content first.
The issue was first highlighted by Hugo Baeta, a Portugese web designer living in San Francisco, who wrote a blog on his shock of having his account with over 900 photos in it deleted hours after posting five videos from a Janet Jackson concert.
What concerned him most was the speed of the action taken, with his account being completely deleted without a chance of defending himself or being given the opportunity to remove them.
When he tried to respond to links in the emails sent about the videos, which had been the subject of copyright claims, presumably from Jackson’s legal team, he was unable to login and then directed to a help article that told him: “Your account has been deleted for not following our terms. You won’t be able to log into this account and no one else will be able to see it. We’re unable to restore accounts that are deleted for these types of violations.”
As he explained in his blog: “So, my Instagram account got deleted without them giving me any kind of actionable options to follow up. I can’t contest the take-down notice (which would be my legal right), because I can no longer log into my account. My account got deleted for posting 5 videos from a concert that I really loved – something I’ve done countless times with other artists I saw perform live.”
Getting to the crux of the matter, he added: “All of this made me quite introspective today. Something so tiny, in the grand scheme of things, actually has shaken me. I was looking back at all the photos I posted on Instagram over these 3 years (over 900 photos) and all the memories they are associated with. It’s a shame all the comments and reactions to them are lost now. But none of it was ever “mine” to begin with, right? It’s a fine line for these social network companies… they need users to exist, yet users aren’t the client, we are the product they sell to advertisers.”
Of course, he’s wrong in one way – whatever the T&Cs of the various networks, content and information created by us or about us does fundamentally belong to us – but that’s of very little help in a situation like this where the platform holds all the power.
Occurrences like this show why it is critical that each and every one of us has all of our information, or at least a copy of it, in a place that we own and control – and it is this vital work which is a big driver in the continuing growth and development of our free app, which does just that.
Luckily for Hugo, he has a friend at Facebook (which owns Instagram), who helped him get his account reinstated. But it is clear from the blog comments that others in the same position were not so fortunate. And even Hugo himself is clear he will transition away from Instagram, his faith in it tarnished by this unpleasant experience.