Guess what guys? It’s time for another exciting edition of “Tech Writer Heal Thyself,” in which I tell you all about how I often don’t listen to my own advice.
So, you know how I tell you to be very, very careful about logging on to public WiFi networks? Well, I’m really wishing I’d listened to myself because I ended up having a social media account hijacked.
Here’s what was going on. I was at an event at convention center signing copies of my non-tech writing books. I was also posting a lot of photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram and that can take up a lot of data. I got a notification that I only had 10% of my data plan remaining on my phone with three days left in the month. I was concerned my online activities would eat up what was left of the plan, so instead of paying for a $15 overage fee, I opted to use the free public WiFi. There was a password to get it, but it was posted on the wall and not exactly a secret.
The last thing I managed to get up on my Instagram account was this photo. Some folks might think I deserved my fate for posting it.
Shortly after I made the post, someone got into my account, changed the password, and then changed the username. They also began posting photos of someone’s bottom in a bikini. I can’t say for certain it was because I logged onto the public WiFi at this event, but it seems like an awfully big coincidence.
When I went to log into my account, I could see that the username had been changed. I’m not this Talia person. In fact, I doubt that Talia is a person. More than likely it’s just a name created by a malicious bot that goes around trying various passwords until it gets in, then automatically changes the username and password.
I immediately headed over to Instagram’s help page and tapped on Report Something.
This also where you need to go to report inappropriate posts, someone impersonating a business or person, scams or anything else that might be troubling on Instagram.
From there you can follow the steps to fill out the proper forms.
Fortunately, my email account attached to my Instagram was still working, so I was able to communicate with them about the issue. I had to submit pictures of a photo ID (with the license number and my address blocked out) to prove I’m who I say I am and had to fill out a ton of forms.
And once I got my account back, it wasn’t over. The hijacker had followed thousands of unwanted spam accounts and I had hundreds of spam accounts following me.
I got my account back, but it took nearly a week and I’m still in the process of unfollowing spam accounts. I would have been much better off not logging onto that free WiFi.