If you follow our Instagram account, you'd know that in early March our account was suddenly disabled. There was no warning and ironically it happened right after I connected the Instagram account to our Facebook Page so that I could run ads and set up Shoppable Instagram. It took me 41 days to regain access to the account and I wanted to share what I tried, what worked and what didn't in case any of you are facing the same issues.
During the 41 days, I tried a whole lot of things to try and get my account back and there was only one thing that worked. Long story short, I "created" a utility bill so that I can prove I was the owner of the account in order for Facebook to review my account. Every time I sent an appeal through their system, I always got the following email from them:
I tried explaining to them that all of these documents were impossible for me to submit because Bru's Bows is a side hustle and not a formally registered company, I pay taxes as part of my personal income tax, and I don't have bills. I even sent them extensive documentation linking sales from this website going into my bank account as an alternate form of proof.
No dice. They just emailed me back requesting the same impossible documents and refused to review (even take a peek) at my account before I did. 🤯🤬 I mean, at this point I should have realized that Facebook's appeal (or even blocking/disabling) process doesn't function based off common sense and I should have just created their requested documents sooner...but I still had hope that I could resolve this the honest way. So here are the things I tried to do but ultimately did not work:
1. Reached out to Instagram employees - I DMed Head of Instagram (@mosseri), COO of Instagram (@justinosofsky), and a writer/producer for Instagram (@oscarraymundo) to explain the situation but I never heard from them and to this day I don't think the messages have ever been read. While browsing their feed, I saw a lot of other people leaving comments about their accounts being blocked/disabled and asking for help. So I guess Instagram employees are either (1) unfeeling bots, or (2) too used to seeing these comments/messages so too jaded to care. I get they're probably all busy and don't have time to deal with these types of comments but it boggles my mind that accounts being shut down for no reason isn't a concern for them. I guess they rely on the fact that they don't have a direct competitor so users will eventually create a new account and get over it or find a way to get their account back. 😒 #Antitrust much?
2. Tagging @instagram and @facebook on a post with my other account and having followers vouch for the account's authenticity/ownership. While this did not help get my account back, I was really touched by all the accounts reaching out to support me. 💕💕 Thank you to all that commented/shared the post.
3. Reached out to a hacker. As mentioned in #1, there were a lot of comments on the Instagram employee's accounts from people that were facing the same issues and I came across one account recommending a hacker that could help unlock your account. I contacted him and he explained what he would do but the fee was $100 😳 Bru's Bows doesn't make THAT much money so I couldn't justify paying for this and I was a bit wary of this process in general.
4. Run an ad on Facebook so I could have access to chat support. So up until I did this, the communication was Facebook/Instagram was pretty one-sided. The only responses I got from them were the auto-response emails they sent me requesting impossible documents after I submit an appeal form. I was convinced there weren't any REAL people working there. A couple people reached out and said that they were able to get their account reactivated after speaking with chat support, but the only way to access chat support was to run a paid ad. So I ran an ad on Bru's Bows Facebook Page and after 24-hours, VIOLA!! I was able to talk to a real human (maybe?) behind Facebook's BOTwall.
In total I talked to four representatives and though they all were very nice/polite, the information I received was (1) a bit useless and (2) contradictory. Each time I contacted them, they would direct me to the appeal forms and after I explained how I get routed to the "impossible document" request each time, they just tell me to be patient and try to explain my case. Ummm yeah, tried that and it failed. #thankyounext
They were also giving contradictory information. The second representative said that the Instagram account was linked to a Business Manager (BM) account (which was also restricted) and that I should file an appeal for the BM account to solve the Instagram restriction. The forth representative told me that there was no Instagram account linked to the BM account so it can be deleted whenever. The first representative didn't say anything about the BM account being linked to the Instagram account but said I would not be able to delete the BM account before getting it unrestricted. 🤯🤯 I don't even know why I have a BM account or how it got set up but when I checked the settings in the BM account, I did see that the Instagram account was linked to it. When I tried un-linking the two, I got this message:
🙄 Anyways, I guess this is another issue for another story. Point is, everything has been made so complicated on Facebook that it would seem their own staff don't know how what's up.
So after my forth conversation with Facebook chat support, I realized that there just was no getting around the appeal system and the only way to play by the book was to, well, not play by the book. I googled "utility bill template" and created a bill for Bru's Bows. I then went and submitted another appeal, got the same request and submitted my bill. The next day, I received this email:
So there you have it...if you're ever stuck in the same situation I was in, I hope this post helps get you through it. Also, here's some links to the multiple appeal forms you can submit:
@smooshymooshy also has a great blog post about this topic and she wrote down some tips and tricks. Check it out here.
I strongly suggest everyone to periodically download your Instagram data (Settings -> Privacy and Security -> Data Download) just in case your account ever gets locked or hacked and deleted. At least you won't lose all your data (photos, stories, etc.).
I hope this was post was helpful (or at least mildly entertaining)! 😋
P.S. If you're reading this @facebook @instagram: I'm very sorry I created a utility bill 😳 You left me with no choice and I don't feel good about it. On the other hand, please get your 💩 together! Stop blocking accounts that haven't done anything wrong; we're not all Russian hackers trying to upset the election. Quit making your system so complicated and trying to link everything up with Facebook. Just let Instagram run as its own company and let us run ads on it and get help, etc. without having to go through Facebook. All I wanted to do was to run ads on Instagram but you made it next to impossible. 😐 As a (very very) minor shareholder, this concerns me.