Influencers on Instagram who use the platform to earn a living often treat their postings like a full-time job. It takes time and effort to build a large following, which is valuable when it comes to sponsorships. Businesses also rely on social media to promote their brands while building up large followings to signal their popularity and legitimacy.
So it’s disheartening—and damaging—if they wake up one day to find that Instagram has banned their account.
The culprit might be a new sort of cyberattack that has emerged to target Instagram users. Dubbed “ban as a service,” this type of attack involves gaming Instagram’s system to get an account banned from the platform. And some individuals are offering to do the dirty work for a low fee—mostly under 60 USD. Read on to find out how it works.
How do fraudulent Instagram bans work?
First off, you might be wondering why someone would want to take down another person’s account. Your guess is as good as any. It could be a business competitor who is targeting an account. It could be someone holding a personal grudge.
There are two main methods the attackers use to get someone banned on Instagram—both take advantage of loopholes in Instagram’s system of reporting inappropriate content.
The first is by creating multiple accounts and then mass reporting the target account, usually with claims that the account showed imagery of self-harm or suicide. There is also code floating around on the internet that lets you easily DIY mass reporting.
The second common method has scammers changing the profile photo on their own “verified” account to the target’s profile photo, then reporting the legitimate account for impersonation. That’s all it takes to get someone banned.
You’re probably thinking: Surely, the original account holder could contact Instagram to right this wrong. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Numerous have tried and failed.
This is where the latter part of the scam comes in. The scammers sometimes reach out to the account holder offering to get them unbanned—for a much higher fee than the ban, reaching several thousand U.S. dollars. How they succeed in getting someone unbanned is something of a mystery but likely just involves a deep understanding of how to wade through the complicated process of working it out with Instagram.
Read more: Is kid-friendly Instagram possible?
How to get unbanned on Instagram
If you’re a victim of an illegitimate ban, contact Instagram immediately through the app. You’ll be required to log in to your account and provide details on how things happened.
The process is supposedly quite arduous, which is why some resort to paying someone to get it done. But we strongly encourage you not to go this route. Ideally, you’d get Instagram to restore your account for free.
How to prevent your Instagram profile from getting banned
There doesn’t seem to be a surefire way of preventing someone from being able to get your account banned. But there are a few ways to mitigate the chance.
If you’re a business owner or an influencer with a significant number of followers, try to get your account verified. It’ll make it harder for scammers to claim your account is impersonating them. Additionally, if you have other social media accounts or if you’re a verified business on Google, Yelp, or other sites, you’d have better credibility and might just be able to get your account back sooner in the event of a ban.
Read more: What does Big Tech know about you? Find out
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