I’m almost a little embarrassed writing this post when there are so many very serious things happening in the world. It feels a bit narcissistic to place so much importance on a website like Instagram but I can’t help but be honest about it. I’ve always loved Instagram. When I started blogging it kind of became a bit of a portfolio of memories and experiences that I loved sharing with people who were interested. It was really important to me. As time went by it became even more important to me because it’s a fundamental part of what I do. These days I am a Slimming World Consultant and I love sharing my recipes and food ideas. But I’ve never been tempted to make it a Slimming World account. I like to include it but I also love to share other snippets from my life. I love to show the places we visit and the joys and stresses of parenting. It’s a gallery of moments and experiences that are very much entwined with both my personal life and my blog. Sometimes I am lucky enough to make some money from it and that makes a huge difference to my life as blogging/slimming world are the reasons that I get to be home with my kid so much. I get to work around him and I cannot tell you what that means to me. My main motivation is genuinely the memories though. I love to be able to look back via photographs.
Last Saturday morning I was going to the Slimming World group where I am a member. As I walked in to the venue I noticed a text from my friend which had a screenshot of my Instagram account. It showed three posts that I had not put up. My friend knew that it didn’t look like me. In fact a few people who follow my sister on Instagram (you can find her here) messaged her to say the same. It was three random photographs advertising a sale for Ray Ban glasses.
I immediately assumed that something wasn’t right and that I had been hacked in some way. So I knew that the first thing I had to do was change my password. I went to settings and before the settings even opened I saw a notification to say that my account had been disabled for violating their terms and conditions. I panicked, tried to log back in and it didn’t even recognize my screen name. It told me that traceysblog did not exist. I then tried to log in using my email address and it told me that there was no account connected to that email address. I felt sick to my stomach that somebody or something, in the space of a few minutes, had literally hacked my account to the point that it no longer existed.
I googled the issue and one of the first search prompts on Google was “Instagram Ray Ban Hack” so I was slightly relieved to see that this was a thing that didn’t just affect me. Unfortunately it didn’t make it that simple to figure out though. I think it’s safe to say that Instagram are notoriously difficult to get in touch with when you have an issue. I read all of the support threads and still found it impossible to find a solution to my problem. When I followed the steps regarding your account being hacked a lot of the solutions suggested changing your password or logging in with your email address or phone number – but the problem was that whoever hacked my account actually deleted those things so I couldn’t access it in any of those ways.
Initially I didn’t panic. I gave myself an “it’s just social media” talk and went about my business for a few days but after nearly a week it kind of hit me that maybe it was gone forever. I realized just how much it meant to me and that actually it was completely normal to feel this way.
So what did I do to fix it? Well I’m actually probably going to be rubbish at helping you if you are in the same position as me but I’ll tell you my story nonetheless. I started by tweeting Instagram begging for help. Funnily enough I didn’t hear back. I then sent an email to a random support email address I found online. Then a few friends pointed me in the direction of a few people that had experienced similar but unfortunately their situation was a little different and there was nothing they did to fix it as such. One of them said that their account just literally reappeared after a few days and the other sent an email to an address (that she did share with me) and eventually someone got in touch with her and asked her to send a photograph of herself with a specific code they sent her. She also had to send a photo of a hand written sign with her Instagram name on it. But despite sending that email I never heard from anyone. I find it so weird that it’s just impossible to actually get in touch with Instagram when you have a problem like this. I know it’s a massive operation but there should be a helpline or something, especially when so many use it for their businesses.
So in the end I contacted a friend of a friend who works at a company that is associated with Instagram and she was able to raise the issue internally but made no promises understandably. She said she would let me know if they got back to her. On Friday evening (a week since it was hacked) I was telling Peter about how stressed out it was making me. I was telling him it sounded so silly but it was making me really upset. He was telling me that it was totally understandable and then he said…. “eh babe, it’s back”. I think I literally nearly dropped the saucepan of dinner. I quite literally started jumping around the sitting room yelling “OMG OMG OMG”. I stopped cooking, sat down and tried to log in. OMG IT LET ME LOG IN. I couldn’t even think straight I was that excited. I immediately went to settings and changed my password and when the new password was accepted I felt such a sigh of relief. It was as though I suddenly felt that they couldn’t hack me again.
And this is the really really important part and perhaps the only actual valuable bit of information that might help you. Then I TURNED ON TWO STEP VERIFICATION. I cannot stress how important this is. I did not have this turned on and this is exactly why someone was able to hack me. Two step verification is a security feature which means that whenever you sign in to your Instagram account from another device it will prompt you for a special security code or SMS code that is text to you. It’s basically a barrier so that even if someone has access to your password (and this can happen via hackers through different websites or dodgy links etc) they won’t be able to log in without your special code. So yes, set up two step verification and don’t let yourself get in to the mess that I found myself in.
In the end it was resolved because of the friend of a friend who raised the issue internally so without that I really don’t know what I would have done. But I hope that encouraging you to switch on the above security feature will prevent it from happening to some of you.
And sure while you are here, my Instagram can be found here.