01/27/2023 – I’m writing this about five days after it happened. Just noting the day I started writing to give context. I also understand Instagram doesn’t typically give reasons why they do anything. Just wish I’d got a warning so I could remedy whatever was wrong before they just suspended my account.
As the title says, my Instagram account was abruptly suspended, then permanently disabled for no reason I can discern.
I’m not super into social media. I haven’t posted on anything in a long time. I decided it wasn’t really worth my time several years ago, and limited myself to just lurking and occasionally replying to posts by family and friends. Over the years I whittled what platforms I looked at down to Twitter and Instagram, then just down to Instagram. My family and friends were all on Instagram and it was a decent way to keep in touch with far less craziness than Facebook and Twitter.
On Monday morning (1/23/2023) I had opened up Instagram to search around for a podcast I listen to. I was unsuccessful in my search and closed out of the app.
At around 10:30am my time, I opened Instagram again, to search for the podcast again using some information I’d gleaned from the episode I just listened to. I couldn’t get into the app.
My account had a message that it had been suspended due to violating Instagram’s Community Guidelines. It gave a date of 1/23/2023 when this happened, and wanted me to take a selfie with a code and send it to them. At first I thought this was a bug like happened last year, or that I’d been hacked.
None of my other accounts seemed compromised, the Facebook account I’d used to make the Instagram account was fine, and I’m not aware of ever linking any third-party apps to my Instagram account. There were no reports of anything wrong with Instagram over the next several hours either.
I read that sometimes this happens on accident. So I went ahead and took the required selfie and submitted it, hoping to hear back in the next few days. I also filled out a few appeal forms I found, just in case.
On Wednesday evening I checked the account again and got an error message saying:
Your account has been permanently disabled because it didn’t follow our Community Guidelines. This decision can’t be reversed either because we’ve already reviewed it, or because 30 days have passed since your account was disabled. Learn more about why we disabled accounts in our Community Guidelines.
As noted it was disabled on 1/23/2023, so the thirty days thing can’t be right, and I’d not received any warnings about anything I’ve ever posted. I use Instagram a few times a week and do enjoy reels, so I’d been in my account at least a few times over the weeks prior, and never saw any warnings.
What did I do?
I have no idea why this happened. I haven’t actually posted to Instagram in a while. The majority of my pictures were of pumpkins I grew myself, a picture of a United Airlines Cup and those waffle things they give you, and some of Canada and Hawaii. In all there were maybe two dozen pictures and they’d all been there for several years without any incident.
So I went through the community guidelines to see if I could figure out the problem. Perhaps something changed and pumpkin photos were now a problem.
The penalty for most of these violations seems to be ‘Instagram removes offending content’ not ‘suddenly permanently bans your entire account without informing you why’. I do not recall ever getting a content warning when posting or commenting on anything.
Instagram’s Community Guidelines (From their own site).
Intellectual Property – Making sure you have the rights to post the content you share.
All good here, all my pictures were taken by me with the exception of my profile picture. The photographer who took it is a friend of mine and I certainly have permission to use it.
Can’t imagine that was the issue anyway.
Appropriate Imagery – We don’t allow nudity on Instagram, with some exceptions, like photos of post-mastectomy scarring and women actively breastfeeding. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.
No pictures of nudity or anything else inappropriate. If there were, my sister, wife, four old church ladies, two former customers, three pastors, a grandparent, five cousins and a dozen former coworkers would have been calling me instantly and asking if I’d got hacked.
Spam – This is not allowed on Instagram (creating or submitting unwanted email, comments, likes or other forms of commercial or harassing communications).
Never did any of this. No third party apps on my account so far as I am aware. Again, I’d have been notified by many people if it happened. I don’t even promote my blogs on Instagram.
Illegal Content – We don’t allow support or praise of terrorism, organized crime or hate groups on Instagram. Offering sexual services and selling firearms and drugs are also prohibited.
Never praised anyone, much less a terror group or organized crime. I haven’t tried to sell myself, firearms, or drugs on Instagram. Nothing illegal.
I made one gun adjacent post when I posted a gun cleaning kit I received from a box subscription service. The subscription company was running a contest. Funny thing, even though I’m a Texan, I don’t own a gun, and I don’t think I had one in my possession when I posted the picture. I gave the kit to someone because it seemed fairly nice. That’s not promoting anything illegal. Even if I lived in a country with strict gun laws, it was simply a cleaning kit.
Hate Speech, Bullying and Abuse – We remove credible threats of violence, hate speech and the targeting of private individuals. We do not allow attacks or abuse based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability or disease.
I’ve never done this. I said I “mock hipsters with subtlety” in my profile caption. Hipsters certainly aren’t a race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability or a disease.
So, unless the term hipster has suddenly become a dog whistle for something else, I don’t see how this applies.
At any rate my mockery was limited to taking pictures of Styrofoam coffee cups and applying a sepia film grain filter to them.
Self Injury – We do not allow glorification or encouragement of self-injury, including eating disorders. We do allow content that references self-injury and eating disorders if it is for the purpose of creating awareness or signposting support.
None of this. Nothing I can even think of where I’d have even implied anything like this.
Graphic Violence – Graphic violence is not allowed and we may remove videos or images of intense, graphic violence to make sure that Instagram stays appropriate for everyone. If shared in relation to important and newsworthy events, and this imagery is shared to condemn or raise awareness and educate, it may be allowed.
I haven’t posted anything that shows graphic violence. Unless carving a Jack-O-Lantern is graphic violence.
Why do I care?
Well, for one I’d kind of like to at least know what I did to violate their terms of service. It was sudden, I wasn’t given a reason, and I certainly wasn’t allowed to try and remedy the issue. I followed all their steps to get back into my account, and was still denied with no reason given. That just really bothers me.
Furthermore, I live in an area where people actually look at social media account for job interviews and stuff like that. It came up a few times while I was interviewing when I moved here. Believe me, out here, if anyone had found anything offensive on it, they’d let me know and cancelled the interview. I received nothing but compliments for how inoffensive my content was.
Yeah, I didn’t have much on there, and it’d be hardly a chore to make a new account. I had very few followers, didn’t follow that many people, and I probably do have copies of all those photos somewhere. I’d still like my old account back, because I really don’t think I did anything against policy, and if I did, I’d like to know at least which guideline I violated.
So, yeah. Would love to have it back, or at least some idea of what was wrong.