Getting My Deactivated Instagram Account Back (Sept. 2019)

It was pretty annoying... But I learned a cool lesson.

Published:

6 minute read

photo from side of me looking left with sunset beach in background

By: Jacob D. Castro

A full-stack web developer. Works with technologies including HTML + CSS, JavaScript, React, GraphQL, Node.js, Express, and MongoDB.

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It was 7:00am. Monday, September 9th, 2019.

The very day I was giving my first talk at a JavaScript meetup in Santa Barbara, CA. I was pretty nervous but super excited. I woke up feeling ready.

As normal, I roll over and grab my phone. Open Gmail, glance at Twitter notifications, Facebook shares, and then Ins.......

Hmm, weird. Login failed.

Let me try again...

Error notification: Your account has been disabled for violating our terms. Learn how you may be able to restore your account.

This really really really sucked. Like, really sucked. Not because I was gonna lose all my followers. Not because I won't be able to recover cool memories I had in my story highlights and posts.

I was worried to lose my username.

@jacobdcastro

I use the same username on every account I make. I didn't want to rebrand. I hated the thought of losing that consistency.

So I tapped that "Learn More" button so fast.

Filling Out The Form

After clicking the button, I was redirected to the Instagram website where there was a form I could fill out to appeal for my account back.

Instagram form for appealing for your disabled account reactivation

For the life of me, I could not remember which email I used to login since I was always logged in on my phone. Both my business and personal emails made sense, so I just submitted it twice saying something like "After reading through Instagram's Community Guidelines, I can ensure you I did not break any guidelines. I've played within the rules and would appreciate my account being reactivated."

I did this before doing any research. Oops.

Upon doing a bit of Google-ing around, I could not find any recent articles about getting your account back. The most recent one I found was in February, 2019, clearly outdated since the screenshot of the form they filled out was totally different.

Every hack that I saw didn't apply because it was a different process back then. It included sending a picture of yourself with a code written on a piece of paper, and you holding up a certain number of fingers. There was also a yes/no radio button question asking if it was an account for a business.

The form I got was clearly different. So most articles were irrelevant. But I did find it useful to read through them anyway.

Two Hacks to Get My Account Back

In my research I learned about a trick regarding how email addresses work. I thought, why not implement this? So I did. Then, through reading lots more articles, I thought of another idea I could use to try to make my case stronger in my appeal.

Here are my two tricks I believe helped in getting my deactivated instagram account back.

1. The Business Excuse

My Instagram account is mostly personal. I follow a lot of sports pages and meme accounts, and interact with friends and family there. But I'd say about 5-15% of my activity on Instagram is related to my freelance gig.

The truth is, I've used Instagram to network and connect with new clients before. I thought, perhaps I could use that in the "please let us know why" text area.

So I filled out the form once more, saying that I had client discussions and information in the DMs that I still needed access to for business-related tasks. This was entirely true!

I've read through people's stories with their experience with this issue. And a lot of people got their account back in 2-4 weeks.

Spoiler Alert: I got mine back in 7 days, significantly faster than others. I really believe this "hack" gave me a bit more priority.

Again, the fact of having information in the DM's is 100% true.

2. The Period Trick

Another trick I tried was one I found on other blogs. Deemed, the period trick.

With this trick, every time you submit the form with your email, you place a period (full stop) in your email anywhere before the @ symbol.

For example, if your email is helloworld123@example.com, submit the form once with that email. Then, the next time you submit it, add a period somewhere, such as hello.world123@example.com. Then, submit it a third time with your email as helloworld.123@example.com. And continue moving the period around until every you've tried every combination.

Why does this work? Here's the theory.

When you send emails, the email protocol ignores periods. You can test this by sending an email to yourself with a period in there. It still goes through to you. It's still your email.

But when form submissions are stored in Instagram's database, it's might be done via email. There's no way they have a database of every single submission that's posted. They likely parse out duplicate submissions to prevent wasting time on spam submissions.

None of this is confirmed, but it is possible that using seperate emails (with the period trick) causes your submissions to be listed seperately, not as spam filed under the same email.

This might increase the chance of your email being seen among the sea of submissions that have gone through.

Once again, this cannot really be confirmed, but I think it's worth a shot.

Finally Getting It Back

When I finally got it back the next Monday, I just tried to log in (like I'd been doing for the previous seven days), and was suddenly not denied access. I just..... logged in like normal.

I then checked my email and turns out, they sent me a notification! The email read:

"It looks like your account was disabled by mistake. Your account has been reactivated, and you should now be able to log in. We're sorry for any inconvenience...

"Thanks, The instagram Team."

It only took seven days. It really wasn't that bad, and it was significantly shorter than other people's wait times. I'm grateful.

Secondary Notes

Within the span of the 7 days it was deactivated, I submitted the form 6 times. Twice the morning it was disabled (Monday), twice on Thursday, and twice on Saturday. That was it. So if you're trying to get yours back, DO NOT submit it 30+ times every single day. That's actually spam.

And be patient. Like really patient. Once you submit the form, just let it go and move on with your life. Instagram isn't everything. You'll be alright.

If you're considering creating a new account, jsut give it a month or so. If you still don't have your account after a month, well you're probably done for and you should create a new account. But if it's the next day, you just shouldn't be feeling hopeless. You'll be alright.

Lessons

It was a bummer to promote my non-existent account at my very first meetup talk. Plus, I was worried I'd have to rebrand everything with a new username. I gotta be honest, those parts were rough.

But through all of that, I had a few cool perspective shifts.

I realized how valuable of a tool Instagram is. For networking, staying informed, and keeping perspective, Instagram is incredible. But this was only the case for me because of what I've fed my feed with.

Who I follow is super important to me. I make sure to follow accounts that feed me, lift me up, and help me maintain a healthy perspective on life. Accounts that are cringeworthy, spammy, or just plain idiotic, I make sure to unfollow, or never follow at all.

Having no access to my feed for a week made me realize how good of a job I've done with curating my feed to benefit me. Though I had no FOMO while off of Instagram, I was bummed I didn't get to enjoy the good vibes that are on there everyday for me.

Takeaway?

Be patient. Believe it or not, social media isn't everything.

Also, curate your feed for health. Your friends and family are not obligated to your follow. Your favorite fan or meme accounts are not obligated to your follow. Your follow is your freedom. Follows are powerful, choose yours wisely.

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- Jacob D. Castro