30th August, 2017

There’s no escaping Instagram’s bots

My usual morning routine consists of checking my phone’s push notifications, going through the seven email accounts setup on my phone and refreshing my social media accounts. One of these social media platforms that I use is Instagram.

I use Instagram regularly and have setup a number of accounts – my main personal account @jdxo and also four other accounts for side projects that I work on. One of those is XO Blog, a music-related website in which I regularly write about a group of musicians who I am a big fan of.

However, I woke up this morning to find that the Instagram account for that website has been banned. According to the pop up message I received when trying to login, Instagram banned me because I had been “violating their terms”. I haven’t done anything of the sort, however I was somewhat relieved when I saw the following message on the notification – “Learn how you may be able to restore your account”. Well it appears that the keyword there is “may” – the page sheds no information on how I can restore my account, no contact details, just a vague message about my account being suspended for some unknown reason.

The bulk of the problem lies with Instagram’s (and Facebook’s) level of automation across their service – it is notoriously difficult to talk to a real person at these networks and if you are lucky enough to speak with someone, you’ll likely receive a generic, copy/pasted message back. Just performing a quick Google search for this issue sprung up thousands of results of people with the same problem with no obvious way of remedying the problem proves that the filtering and banning process on Instagram is over-sensitive, and with little-to-no way of getting the accounts back, it can cause a serious dent in people’s businesses.

I’ve found the only way of getting the message to Instagram is by filling in their “something is wrong” contact form and reporting the issue, though I don’t hold much hope for a response. I’m almost resigned to the fact that I’ll have to create a brand new account, therefore losing the thousands of followers and posts that I had amassed over a 12 month period.

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