Losing access to my Instagram account (and the perils of automated AI)

I had an email this morning, telling me that my Instagram account had been blocked:

Your account has been suspended. This is because your account, or activity on it, does not follow our Community Guidelines.

As far as I can make out from the links provided, my recent posting behaviour hit some sort of filter that identified me as a bot. I was sent a numeric code and told to submit a selfie of that number written on a piece of paper. This selfie had to include my hands, presumably to prove that the image was not AI-generated.

Having my Instagram account deleted is sad, but it’s not a huge loss. I did not lose the only copy of any photos (there was no option to download my data), but there were message threads with a couple of people I don’t have other ways of contacting. The process is bureaucratic and Kafkaesque, and I can imagine it being unpleasant and alienating for people who rely on their instagram (particularly for those who run businesses using it).

I guess this sort of thing is going to happen more often in future, particularly as more customer service is automated. I dread trying to persuade my phone company, bank or the government that my account is legitimate – or attempting to regain control in the case of being hacked.

There’s also a question here about how ‘communities’ function under corporate control. Instagram’s services are free to me, and my ad-blockers does mean I am not an ideal user. I am there on their sufferance. There is no offer of any help to regain the account. An algorithm has made a decision and I cannot contact a human to appeal. Their service, their rules.

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