My Escape From Instagram Extortion

So, I signed up to Instagram to follow people. I gave them my real name, my real email address and no phone number. They seemed perfectly happy with this. I followed a few people (and one furby). I didn’t post anything. It seemed innocuous. Then it started trying to blackmail me with an utterly unacceptable demand to extort my phone number out of me.

(Content warning: Lots of angry swearing below the fold. Proceed at your own discretion.)

I was locked out of my account and faced with this:


Note that there are no other verification options. It was basically just “Phone number or fuck off!” They could easily have emailed me a verification code or link but they clearly didn’t care about the code itself. They just wanted the phone number.

Note also that they don’t require the phone number at sign-up, probably because that would put some people off signing up. Instead they let people use Instagram for a week or two and then they hold their account to ransom. I’m pretty sure that they do the same thing to kids too!

Well, fuck that! No FACEBOOK, you may not have my phone number! No. Not for “verification”. Not at all! Not under any circumstances or for any purposes and certainly not to try to cross reference me across platforms for purposes that would almost certainly be prohibited under the GDPR if FACEBOOK was operated within any half-way lawful jurisdiction!

I tried to search for a way to contact them or bypass this. It seems that it is just not possible. (I did have a similar problem getting locked out of Twitter once for apparently clicking too fast and setting off their “bot detector” but at least I could contact them and they let me back in without giving a phone number once I explained that I was an actual real human person. Yes, that’s right Instagram. I’m calling you worse than Twitter! Worse. Than. Fucking. Twitter!)

So that left me with a problem. I was stuck with an Instagram account that I could not get back into but I was also unable to contact them or to delete the account. I was not going to put a “real” phone number in there in order to get in and then delete the account because any organisation that desperate to extort phone numbers is not going to delete numbers once they have them. So…

I don’t have a burner phone… But my Mum does! Some bullshit text message reminders from shady companies that promise not to spam you, and then spam you, still go to her old phone with half the buttons falling off. So I borrowed that and…

  • Instagram account deleted!


    You may be “sorry”. I’m not!

  • Instagram App uninstalled from phone!
  • Send my Mum’s knackered old phone as much spam as you like you scumbags! Try to cross-reference the number if you like. She won’t care! She only turns it on when it is needed.
  • Fuck you Instagram! FUCK YOU in upper case letters FACEBOOK!
  • Apologies to the precisely three people (and one furby) who have just lost an Instagram follower. It wasn’t your fault.

This whole thing is very unfortunate as there were good people* who I did want to follow on Instagram but at least I had not invested any of my time in actually posting to it. I guess that if FACEBOOK have stooped to this level of extortion then it is probably time to delete my old FACEBOOK account too before they try to ransom that one as well.

What a shitty place the internet is becoming…

Oh, and if my one (1) Instagram follower sees this then:

  • Don’t worry. I didn’t delete the account because of you.
  • Please feel free to follow me here and/or on Twitter if you like my sweary opinions.



* – The furby is good people too.

November 20, 2019. Daniel, IT, Security, Sensible, Social Media.

One Comment

  1. Rik replied:

    Yeah, back in 1993, I read a letter to Wired where the guy was imploring no-one in particular, the universe maybe, not too let the internet become biased by corporations. Guess the universe just shat all over that one :D

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