Cybersecurity is a top concern for today’s business owners and technology executives. Recent trends and cybersecurity statistics reveal a massive surge in hacked and breached data. Agility is paramount when staying ahead of rapidly-evolving threats, on and off the track. In the midst of the increasing attacks, Instagram is incorporating some strict measures to eliminate bots and other accounts that are manipulating the platform.
The social media platform will now require suspicious accounts to verify their identities by submitting some form of government identification. Tax identification card, passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, or other records such as school ID, electricity bill, etc., are accepted. If you do not have a government-issued ID, Instagram will also accept paycheck stubs, mail, bank statements, or credit cards.
The uploaded ID will be stored securely and will be deleted after the company completes its reviewing process. The investigation process will supposedly take 30 days. The ID proof will not be shared on the individual’s profile. For an ID to be acceptable, the account holder cannot withhold or electronically modify any part of the ID. Instagram will simply overlook the sensitive personal information on an ID, such as a social security number.
Instagram has confirmed that the new policy will not affect most of the users, but it is going to evaluate the suspicious target accounts. The company further explained that this includes profiles potentially engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior or when a majority of someone’s followers are from a different country to their location. The company will also conduct an extensive hunt if they find signs of automation like in bot accounts.
“We will begin asking people to confirm who’s behind an account when we see a pattern of potential inauthentic behavior. By prompting the people behind accounts to confirm their information, we will be able to better understand when accounts are attempting to mislead their followers, hold them accountable, and keep our community safe,” Instagram said.
If the suspected accounts fail to comply, Instagram will down-rank their posts in the feed or disable their account entirely. In late 2018, Instagram said it would act more vigorously to regulate fake and inflated likes, follows, and comments generated by third-party apps and bots. Facebook, too has a similar policy in place that dictates people running popular pages to verify their identities.
However, it is unclear how Instagram will manage accounts with sensitive information or accounts like ‘Black Lives Matter‘, revealing which could harm the individual. The policy also seems a bit hazy for the accounts that are not associated with a name.
Instagram decided to integrate the account identification months before the US 2020 election. Instagram has previously faced excessive scrutiny for not doing enough to prevent its platform from being used for election interference. A report from the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election clarifies that Instagram was ‘the most effective tool used by the IRA to conduct its information warfare campaign.’
Cyber-attacks have become more engaging and potentially more disastrous as our dependence on information technology increases. Countries are focusing on cybersecurity while citizens are at home due to the pandemic. Also, Instagram and Facebook are not the only platforms that were the center of the cyber attacks.
On July 15, the Twitter accounts of numerous major companies and high profile individuals were breached. The compromised accounts were then used to promote cryptocurrency (Bitcoin), which earned the attackers $120,000. These scam tweets, which were part of the hack, claimed to double the bitcoin amount when sent to a certain wallet address, only for a limited time. This socially engineered attack is marked as one of the most widespread and confounding breaches the platform has ever seen.
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