Many Instagram accounts deleted after recent hack

The other day it was revealed that Instagram had been hacked and contact information to millions of accounts had been leaked online. At the same time we started seeing reports of people having to verify their accounts by adding their phone number, even if it had previously been added to Instagram. Users were prompted inside the app to verify their phone number and then got a six digit code to insert. If users didn’t do this they could not access their accounts.

While this may have worked well for most users, others reported that their accounts were deleted or that they lost hundreds of their old photos from the app.

This happened to me as well this weekend and my account was effectively disabled for about 12 hours. But I was lucky that my account was restored. After inserting the code, my account got back online, at first without any of my old photos, but during a minute or two, old photos and followers were loaded back until all was back to normal.

For a few days now, many users are reporting that they have lost their Instagram accounts. One person in a forum I’m in, said on Saturday that she lost all photos from the last four months. Today, all those photos are back online again. 

Another person has had her account disabled for at least three days without getting it back. After 68 hours her account was restored. The way to get your account back according to this user is to click “get help signing in” then “need more help”. After that, fill out the form and click “my account was hacked” and describe what happened. Instagram Support will email you and “ask you to send a photo of yourself holding a paper with your name, user name, and a code they provide in the email”. Apparently this method worked.

Instagram has yet not responded officially to this incident, so we don’t know if it is related to the large hack from last week or not. Final word of advice, always secure your account with two factor authentication, which makes it a lot harder for hackers to get access to your account.

Hashtags on Instagram not working causes uproar among users

Many users are currently reporting problems with hashtags on Instagram. When some users upload photos that are tagged, their photos do not show up under the hashtags they used. I have read about this issue in discussion forums the last few days and yesterday it happened to me as well.

I uploaded a photo yesterday evening using about 30 tags, which is the maximum number allowed by Instagram. Normally after I have done this, my photo would immediately show up under the hashtags that I used. But now it didn’t. In fact, on the tags that I had used, almost no new photos from the last hour or so showed up, even on tags where there usually are new photos uploaded every minute, like #reflections.

It was soon obvious to me that this was an actual thing, not something that only I noticed in my app. Normally I get a small number of likes, say 10-15, during the first few minutes after uploading a photo. And many of them are from non followers because they discover my photos elsewhere than in their feed.

Now, however, notifications were almost silent. Only a single like or two during the first five to ten minutes, and only from followers. This was a clear sign that my photo was only visible to my followers.

Hashtags on Instagram aren’t working

So I started to investigate. None of the tags I had used displayed almost any recent photos. Some 30-40 minutes ago, some from an hour ago. My photo did not show up anywhere.

I logged in to other accounts but the results were the same, even for tags that I had not used in this photo. So had I been shadow banned? I don’t know, the concept of shadow ban is controversial and many experts say it doesn’t exist. Shadow ban is a theory that a user is somehow being punished by Instagram’s algorithm, resulting in their photos not being displayed under hashtags.

After about 2-3 hours the problem seemed to have been resolved and my photo was visible again on the hashtags. It even got promoted to the top 9 trending hashtags on more than 10 tags, so clearly all was fine again.

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Users are upset

It was soon clear that this problem was affecting lots of people. Instagram tweeted out this weekend’s hashtag project and the replies to this tweet are mainly about the tag issue.

instagram_hashtags_not_working2

In a Facebook group about social media, people were frustrated because their photos tanked and weren’t displayed at all.

hashtagdiscussion

There does not seem to be a workaround for users at the moment, should this issue continue. My only recommendation at the moment is to check the hashtags before you publish and see if they are displaying recent photos. If not, maybe you should wait and publish later.

Also, check Twitter discussions and see if other people are having the same problem with hashtags. Then at least you will know it is a general Instagram bug and not someting that you did.

Footnote: follow me on Instagram for travel photos: @kullin

 

My most popular Instagram photo, a gift from a spammer

Eye in the sky

Ett inlägg delat av Hans Kullin (@kullin)

Suddenly one day you think you might have cracked the code, that you will finally become an influencer on Instagram. Your photos, for no apparent reasons, are getting twice as many likes as they normally do, and the likes are coming in fast. Some 200 likes within 30 minutes is not something I am used to. And it happened on one image, then on another one the same day, and once again the following day. Three photos now had gotten about 400 likes, at least 150-200 more than they usually do.

Fake likes
But the sudden popularity of my Instagram account had nothing to do with my skills as a photographer. Instead, the likes were a “gift” from a spammer who approached me to sell his or her services (i.e. buy likes or followers). This was the message I received via DM:

instagram_likes

I admit that I was a bit suspicious, the unproportionate number of likes from Russian accounts didn’t make sense. But who knows? Instagram’s algorithm works in mysterious ways. My sudden fame in Russia could have a logical explanation. Unfortunately the explanation was fake likes.

The last few weeks, there has been an increase in spam on Instagram with accounts that sell fake followers commenting on a large number of photos. As influencer marketing continues to grow in importance, there’s also money to be made from inflating follower numbers on social networks. Just don’t fall for it. In order to succeed, you will need a fan base made up of real people.


Footnote: I am @kullin on Instagram. Follow for travel photos, sunsets and architecture.

Autofill is not working on Instagram hashtags

The latest update to Instagram apparently has caused a vital feature to stop working. Normally when you post a photo or a video and then want to add some hashtags, Instagram would auto-complete the hashtags with suggestions from tags you’ve previously used.

autofill instagram

For example:

If I type #c in a comment to one of my photos, Instagram would suggest #clouds #cloudscape #cloudstagram if I have used them recently. Or other examples if I type # and another letter.

This makes it easy to add more tags and it also prevents misspelling, which is easily done if you add several hashtags.

Now however, this feature is not working. Instagram won’t autofill any hashtags if you do like I showed above. Instead, the app is now suggesting ALL recently used hashtags if you start typing #. And this is no good because you might want to add only tags related to black and white photography if you post a bnw photo, so now you have to scroll through all of them to find the appropriate ones. And not only that, you can only add one at a time from the suggested list, so this makes it all more time consuming.

Hopefully it is just a bug and I really hope Instagram will restore the autofill feature to what it was before the last update.

Popular hashtags temporarily suspended on Instagram

One of the most common advices on how to get more likes and followers on Instagram is to use popular hashtags on your photos. By doing that, your photos and videos can be discovered by other people than just the ones that follow you.

Instagram removes recent photos from some popular hashtags
But for quite some time, Instagram has had major problems with spam and inappropriate content. Some of the most commonly used hashtags have been flooded with offensive content that do not follow the community guidelines. That can for example be nudity, threats or hate speech.

Instagram’s response to this problem has been to completely remove the “Most Recent” section from the app/site for that hashtag and only show Top Posts. This is done for a limited period.

Some of the top hashtags that have been affected by this problem recently are:

#fun
#swag
#cute
#sun
#sunrise
#sunset
#clouds

cute_hashtag

sunset_hashtag

sunrise_hashtag

sun_hashtag

clouds_hashtag

These are among the most used hashtags and if you use them in order to increase visibility for your photos, there is a real risk that it will not work. Only top posts will be visible under these hashtags and no new users will see your photos.

My advice is that before you tag a photo on Instagram with a popular hashtag, always check if the tag has been temporarily suspended. If not, then it’s ok. But if it has, choose other tags.

To find relevant tags to use you can for example:

  • Find top 100 hashtags on Websta.me
  • Go to the search tab on Instagram and see trending hashtags
  • Visit a hashtag page on Instagram and find up to five related hashtags on that topic

Note: find me on Instagram at @kullin

Top 10 Swedish Instagram accounts

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My favourite photo app Instagram continues to grow and reached 400 million active users per month last fall. Many Swedish brands, celebrities and skilled photographers have been able to build huge followings on Instagram.

The 20 largest Swedish accounts added approximately 5 percent more followers last month (between Dec 4, 2015 and Jan 4, 2016).

18 Instagram accounts now have at least a million followers

You now have to have more than 100,000 followers to be among the top 100 Instagram accounts in Sweden. At least 18 of them have more than a million followers, not bad for a country of less than 10 million people. But then again, the most successful users all have an international audience.

The Swedish brand with most followers is H&M – 11.8 million (global account, they have several local accounts too).

Among individuals, PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Swedish Youtuber Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg are in a league of their own. Excluding businesses, the top 10 accounts in Sweden are (data collected on Jan 4, 2016):

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 10.7 million
  2. Pewdiepie – 6,900,000
  3. Tattoos of Instagram – 3,200,000
  4. Avicii – 3 million
  5. Men with class – 2,700,000
  6. Anna Nyström – 2,100,000
  7. Elsa Hosk – 2 million
  8. Maher Zain – 1,800,000
  9. Rachel “Yoga Girl” Bråthén – 1,700,000
  10. Alesso – 1,600,000

Note: I am @kullin on Instagram