“User Not Found” | Why Instagram Deleted My Account and How I Got it Back

Fair warning: I’m going to try to make this post as dramatic as possible, not that I really have to try very hard. Losing my Instagram for 3 hours was terrible and stressful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

I love Instagram. I enjoy posting and seeing pictures, I like to read through inspiring comments at the coffee shop, I have met so many new people, and made fantastic professional connections through blogging. I put my sweat and tears into my pictures – I really view my Instagram page as a creative outlet to share my life with anyone who chooses to be a part of it, whether small or big. I take a lot of joy in creating an aesthetically pleasing profile in which others can gain inspiration from and I truly feel like my silly little Instagram page is an important part of my artistic side.


The Disappearance (dun dun DUN)

I had woken up and started my morning bed ritual of checking emails and social media, but my Instagram had logged me out for some reason. I tried to log back in, but the password didn’t work. I tried one more time, and a dreadful screen popped up: ‘Instagram User Not Found’. Not found?? I quickly discovered my page wasn’t ‘disabled’, there was no ‘glitch’, my internet connection was fine and there was nothing trending on Twitter about Instagram crashing. No, my friends, my Instagram page had simply disappeared.

After the initial shock wore off, I desperately Googled my dilemma looking for an answer. The search results on the first page were filled with horror stories: “The Day I Vanished From Instagram”, “I had 100,000 followers and Instagram deleted my account”, “I never gained back control of my deleted Instagram profile”. I confidently knew I had not been hacked. I have 2-step authentication turned on and my password would have been impossible to guess. So what then?? What had happened??

I Really Must Have Made Instagram Angry

I knew almost immediately why my account was gone. I had pissed off Instagram.

The day before, I Googled “how to get rid of Instagram ads on your feed” because I felt like it was ALL I was seeing anymore. Every 3 or 4 posts was an advertisement for something that I couldn’t care less about or a picture of someone Iย already followed! The first link I clicked gave the following advice:

“Every time you see an Instagram ad, click “hide it” and choose a random reason. Soon you’ll find your ads slowing down, and to this day, I couldn’t find one Instagram ad on my newsfeed if you paid me! Mission accomplished!”

So I followed that blogger’s advice. All day. For a full day. Every ad I scrolled past, I hid. Every single one. And within 24 hours, my account had been completely erased. Coincidence? I can’t prove this was the reason, but I am 100% certain in my gut that’s what it was. As my sister eloquently said: “OBVIOUSLY! You do NOT mess with Facebook/Instagram’s revenue stream.”

How I Got it Back

Finally, after sobbing to the select few in my life that I knew would understand the pain of losing my account, I decided to check Reddit. Reddit hackers are known for providing incredible information and ideas to solve technological issues, and lo and behold, I finally found a user that was able to help me.

His advice was to:

  1. Go to Instagram ON YOUR COMPUTER. Don’t use your phone.
  2. Hit “Forgot Password”
  3. Type in the email you are used to using to reset password.
  4. Try this up to 3 times if it doesn’t work.
  5. Once you get an email notification, follow the instructions to hopefully reactive your account.

It did actually take 3 times, but I finally got it back up! My pictures slowly but surely returned, and every person I have ever tagged in a photo got a notification from me (oops sorry). I never received any responses from the Instagram or Facebook help pages I desperately reached out to but I looked lovingly into my phone and promised my Instagram I would never take advantage of it again. No more complaining about ads.

All jokes aside, this experience left me completely perplexed about the power that social media channels have. Throughout the experience, I could not discover ONE way to contact Instagram support that didn’t include me waiting for a response whenever they felt like it. Facebook offered zero help as well. No phone number, no live chat, and an email address help line that felt like a losing battle. Should we not demand that these apps provide us support if we need it? How many pictures and memories would you lose if your profile shut down tomorrow? How many connections and friendships live in these social media sites?

My advice to you: back up your photos, don’t hide ads, and obviously go open your IG account now and follow me @JesiPepperminting because I’M BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER BABY.

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