Instagram (and potentially gmail) hacked, deactivated, feeling unsettled

EDIT2: Account was restored but now I appear to be “shadowbanned.” None of my posts show up under their respective hashtags in search and explore. I don’t spam, I don’t use my account for commercial purposes, so I don’t know why I was deactivated in the first place nor why I have been made invisible. The upside to all this is this little incident pushed me to finally upgrade my WordPress, get a domain name, and update my blog.

EDIT: account was restored four hours later and things seem to be in order. Still don’t know if it was hacking or what, but I’m on my guard now. Enabling 2 factor verification for everything that moves. Will write a follow up on lessons learned, both about myself and security measures I can take.

The title says it all. Tonight I tapped on my instagram to post my daily picture, only to be prompted to log in again with my password. So I do, only to find out my account has been deactivated for violation of terms. WTF? I only started a few weeks ago, I post pictures of postcards I send, I have about 10 followers and I follow about 100 art and mail art related accounts. I don’t spam, I don’t do anything to warrant deactivation blah blah I just assumed some computer messed up somewhere and I fill out the appeal form.

But then I kept poking around and tried checking out password recovery–where I find out while my user id is still valid (though the account is deactivated), there’s no record of the gmail tied to the account. What? And then I notice there is a random user picture AND the wrong name tied to the account. And when I click on send email for password recovery, it tells me an email’s been sent to a totally random email: 5**** @Q ****

Now I’m starting to freak out. So I look back through my gmail, and try to retrace steps. And more worryingly, there’s no email from instagram security saying my email has been changed… so no way to revert the action. So potentially the hackers got into my gmail and erased that email??? It’s not my main gmail, I made it specifically for a new project I’m starting (which is tied to this instagram in question), so I don’t normally check it. I don’t know when this all could’ve happened.

In review: earlier today I was able to tap into instagram and scroll through the feed, liking posts. I was thinking about what and how I could post next. I was daydreaming about how I could turn this little postcard project and username into a passion project. And how this passion project could turn into a source of income, or a business, or just a brand for my hobby.

The username/handle was @awonderfulsheep by the way. Maybe I shouldn’t speak about it in the past tense already, maybe it can be recovered. I had been planning to write a blog post about it and link up the instagram to my blog once I had about a month’s worth of posts…. I was going to customize and upgrade my wordpress too to align with this new brand/ passion project. Buy a domain, redo the about me, share more with the world, create beautiful things. This was the thing I was most excited about the past few weeks. It was on my to do list.

And then today, no just in the last hour or two, my little world of fantasies came crumbling down. I don’t know why the hacker went in and added a random user picture (of a cat, before I didn’t have a user pic yet because I was waiting to draw/make the perfect one), why they changed the name of the account to “WONDERFULSHEEP” (before it was “awonderfulsheep”), I don’t know why they didn’t change my password (since when I logged in, instagram told me I was deactivated), I don’t know what they did in the LAST FEW HOURS SINCE I WAS LAST ON INSTA to warrant the deactivation, or why or how they added the pic and changed the email, and how they got into my gmail so that I don’t have the email informing me my email was changed so I can’t take action….

I don’t know why me, I had 10, maybe 11 followers? I don’t know why now, when am very busy and have a big day tomorrow and don’t have the time or mental energy to be thinking about this (yet, here i am, almost 2 hours later, doing nothing but trying to figure out how I can redress this.

What also sucks was I didn’t tell anybody about this insta account yet, so nobody who knows me knew about it. I don’t know why that matters, maybe just that nobody in real life can back me up that this is my account. Except I guess they have the actual postcards they got in the mail, the ones I took pictures of to post on the insta. And I have copies of all the pictures… unless they hack that too. This is starting to feel like that old movie from the 90s, the Net. With sandra bullock.

This is incoherent and mostly just to get my frustration and sadness and worry and disappointment and feeling unsafe out of my head and heart and onto a space that, at least for now, I have control of. And also reaffirms I need my own domain/webspace to share things so a platform like insta can’t just take away my pictures like that. I have copies backed up, but still, the photos posted chronologically every day, that nice record is gone.

Although I did lose a blog post on WordPress too the other day (not sure when it happened) so I guess this here site isn’t perfect either. Link to that later when it’s not late and I’m not stressed and frustrated and sad.

Gahhhhhhhhhhhh this effing sucks.

And instagram still hasn’t emailed me back re. my appeal for deactivation…. so maybe y gmail was hacked and they’ve somehow stopped instagram from emailing it? but I got the emails confirming my 2 factor verification just now.

I dunno. I need to go to bed.

I still feel sad. I was really excited about this username… about how i could make this passion project a mini hobby brad…. about how i was gonna draw a logo… about tellling people the story behind the username… (see last post about book review–link later.)…. and now…. I feel robbed. Hacked. This shit actually happens.

Maybe will change my wordpress name now at least, i had been planning to when i redid this site, but will go ahead now to assert some control when feeling so out of control.

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