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Hoax - 'Instagram Randomly Deleting Accounts'

Outline
Circulating social media messages claim that image sharing service Instagram will be randomly deleting a "huge mass" of accounts on a specified date or is removing accounts due to "money loss". According to the message, users can keep their accounts safe from deletion by reposting the warning.

Brief Analysis
The message is just a silly hoax. Instagram will not be randomly deleting a mass of accounts as claimed. The warning is just a new variant of a long running hoax that has targeted users of many different online services. A similar  - and equally false - rumour spread rapidly back in May 2013 after some Instagram users temporarily lost access to their accounts due to a service glitch. Sending on this fake warning will help nobody.

Examples
Many people are seeing 'We're sorry, we cannot provide News at this time when they refresh their news feed. This is because the Instagram Council is deleting many accounts due to money loss. Repost this and hastag #SaveMyIG2014 to let the Instagram council know that you are an active account.

Instagram Privacy Policy Important Update

On December 20, 2013 Instagram will be randomly deleting a huge mass of instagram accounts. Many users create multiples accounts ...

Instagram Hoax



Detailed Analysis
According to this supposed warning message, online image sharing service Instagram will be randomly deleting a "huge mass" of accounts on a specified date. The message, which is circulating via Instagram itself and via other social media sites, claims that the mass purge is to reduce spam on the service and get rid of inactive accounts.  Supposedly, such inactive accounts cost the service $1.1 million to maintain and can "create spams".


A later variant claims that the "Instagram Council" is deleting accounts due to "money loss".

But, claims the message, concerned users can save their accounts from the impending mass deletion just by reposting the warning to others and specifying the user name @ActiveAccountSafe and hashtag #ActiveAccountSafe, or #SaveMyIG2014, thereby proving that they are active users. Some of the messages are presented as an important privacy policy update.

However, the claims in the warning are utter nonsense. Instagram - which is owned by Facebook - is not going to randomly delete large numbers of accounts as claimed. And even if the company did decide to purge unused accounts, it certainly would not require its users to repost an inane and poorly rendered message to "prove" that they are active users.  

In fact, the message is just one more incarnation of a long running hoax that falsely claims that a particular online service will delete your account if you do not send on a message.  Users of parent company Facebook have been targeted over several years via similar variants of the hoax.  More than a decade ago, Hotmail users were told that they must forward a particular email to prove that they were using the service and avoid termination of their account. And, since then, Gmail, Yahoo, WhatsApp, and several other companies have been featured in versions of the hoax.

In reality, the basic premise of the hoax is absurd. Certainly, some online services may terminate accounts that have not been used for lengthy periods. But, they do not need users to share a silly message to show that they are active members. They have far more sophisticated means of measuring activity on their networks.

The Instagram version of the hoax also builds on a mass deletion rumour that circulated back in May 2013. At the time, some Instagram users found that they suddenly could not access their accounts, and this fuelled an utterly unfounded rumour that the company was conducting a mass account purge. In reality, it was nothing more than a service glitch that temporarily stopped some users from accessing their accounts. Account access for affected users was quickly restored.

It is high time that this tired and aging account deletion hoax was laid to rest. Any message that claims that your account will be deleted if you do not send the message to your friends is almost certainly a hoax.  Reposting such nonsense will help nobody.


Last updated: March 7, 2014
First published: December 16, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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References
Facebook Deleting Inactive Users Hoax
Hotmail Account Hoax
Gmail Deleting Unused Accounts Hoax
Yahoo Account Deletion Hoax
WhatsApp 'Servers Really Full' Hoax
No, Instagram Isn't Randomly Deleting Accounts

© Brett M.Christensen, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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