Facebook took a username from an Instagram user, but gave it back

Posted Apr 17, 2014

Facebook has given back a username that it took away from an Instagram user recently. Brian Hoff, a web designer, wrote an article on Medium about the incident that was titled ?They say ?nothing will change?/*Everything* changes.? Hoff’s wife had the user name @kathleen, but it was changed to @_____kathleen. At first, they thought someone hacked into the account. They reached out to @InstagramHelp on Twitter and tried to get support through e-mail, but that did not work.

Hoff said:

No response whatsoever. I wasn?t overly surprised since their last support tweet was 587+ days ago. You know, just about the time that Facebook wrote out that big fat check. And they said ?nothing will change. We?ll keep the service operating independently as it currently is.?

When Hoff Instagrammed a photo to her, he noticed she was logged out and her password no longer work. Then he discovered that another person was using the @kathleen on Instagram. The new owner of that username is a current employee at Facebook/Instagram.

To prove that his wife is the original owner of the @kathleen username, he showed dozens of e-mails from Instagram that pointed out his wife’s password had been changed. He was not accusing @kathleen of stealing the username. He said ?for all I know [the employee] had no idea what happened.?

Yesterday Hoff tweeted that Facebook returned his wife’s Instagram account back to her.

Here is what a Instagram spokesperson said about the incident.

Like many social services, Instagram has a policy of reassigning usernames from accounts that have been inactive for a significant length of time. While the policy is standard practice and will continue, Instagram employees strive to always put members of the Instagram community first, and so we will be returning the name to the previous owner.

Hoff said that his wife’s account was not inactive though. He said that his wife posted some photos on her old account and often liked and commented on photos. The account had 95 posts, 113 followers, and was following 100 people.