A widespread Instagram hack is locking users out of their accounts

By | 14th August 2018

Here's your destination for all things Insta!

When you think of social media apps, one of the first that probably comes to mind in Instagram.

Launched back in October 2010 as an iOS exclusive, Instagram has quickly grown up to be the most popular platform for sharing photos and videos with people around the world.

Whether you need a refresher of the app or want to stay on top of the latest news surround it, here's everything you need to know about Instagram.

The latest Instagram news

August 14, 2018 - Instagram users are reporting a strange hack that locks them out of their accounts

Since the beginning of August, Instagram users have reported a bizarre hack: users will be 'logged out' of their account, and once they go to log back in, their username will no longer exist. Their handle will be changed, along with their profile picture, as well as the email and phone number that's connected to the account, making it impossible to access their information.

On Twitter, there have been more than 100 of these types of anecdotal reports in the last 24 hours alone. According to data from analytics platform Talkwalker, there have been more than 5,000 tweets from 899 accounts mentioning Instagram hacks just in the last seven days. Many of these users have been desperately tweeting at Instagram's Twitter account for help. (Mashable)

Once the accounts have been hacked, the picture is typically set to a Disney or Pixar character. The email associated with the accounts is switched to a Russian .ru email address. Their bios and personal information are also deleted.

To prevent things like this from happening to your Instagram account, we recommend turning on two-factor authentication. Plenty of users who have been affected by the hack didn't have two-factor authentication turned on — however, it is worth noting that even having this extra security step might not fully keep your IG profile safe.

The extra security measure didn't protect Chris Woznicki, who was using two-factor authentication at the time his account was hacked 10 days ago. Woznicki says Instagram sent him security emails notifying him the email address on his account had been changed (once again, to a .ru address) and 2FA had been disabled. But by the time he saw the messages, it was too late and he had already lost access to his account, which had 660 followers. Others have reported similar occurrences. (Mashable)

July 19, 2018 — Instagram now shows you when your friends are online

If you frequently send direct messages to other Instagram users, you'll now that there's never been a way to know if your friends/followers are online and actively using the app. Thankfully, this changes today!

As part of a new update, Instagram will now show you when other people are online. On your inbox page for DMs and when browsing your friends list to share a post from your main feed, you'll begin to see a green indicator next to profile pictures of other users if they're on the app at that time. With this, it'll be much easier to know if you'll get an immediate response from someone if you send them a private message.

All the big details

The Home tab is where you'll spend most of your time

When you're using Instagram, most of your time will likely be spent on the Home tab. This is the page you're taken to each time you open the app, and it acts as a central hub for everything Instagram has to offer.

At the very top, you'll see three icons. From left to right, these are for taking a photo for Instagram Stories, opening IGTV, and going to your inbox for direct messages. Below that are circles for people you follow so you can view any of their Instagram Stories posts.

Underneath all of this is your main feed. Here, you'll be able to endlessly browse through posts from people and hashtags you follow. On each post there are buttons for liking it, leaving a comment, privately sending it to one of your contacts, and adding it to your Saved page (more on that later).

Find new stuff on the Explore page

If you tap on the magnifying glass icon at the very bottom, you'll be redirected to the Explore page.

On Explore, you can scroll through photos/videos from people and hashtags you might not be following but that Instagram thinks you'll be interested in nonetheless.

You can search for a specific person or hashtag at the very top, and below that are recommended categories to filter the page by — including things like Humor, Animals, TV & Movies, and more. By default, this is set to For You.

Play around with the editing tools

Editing photos has been a big part of Instagram for years, and in 2018, that hasn't changed one bit.

After selecting a photo you want to post, you can browse through a list of numerous filters. As you tap each one, you'll instantly see how it's going to affect the look of your picture. If you don't like any of the filters you're seeing, keep swiping to the left until you see the Manage button. Tap on this and you can add even more to your collection.

In addition to filters, tapping the Edit button at the bottom will allow you to fine-tune your photos even more with controls for the brightness, contrast, fade, highlights, etc. And, if all else fails, tapping the sunshine icon at the top-middle will enable you to control the Lux for your post and instantly ramp up the saturation and brightness for a much more vibrant-looking photo.

Take advantage of the Saved feature

If you come across a post on Instagram that you particularly like, it's easy to save it for later without notifying anyone.

When looking at the post you want to save, tap the bookmark icon at the very right. Once you do this, head over to your profile,tap that same icon once again, and it'll be right there for your viewing pleasure.

No one is notified when you add their photos to the Saved section, and if you want to go a step further, you can create a Collection to categorize the posts you add here.

Be sure to check out IGTV

This past June, Instagram added one of the biggest new features to its app in years — IGTV.

IGTV is Instagram's take on long-form video, and unlike something such as YouTube, is designed around having people create and share vertical video content.

You can access IGTV through the main Instagram app or by downloading the standalone IGTV one, and upon opening it, you're able to browse through videos from people you follow and what's currently trending/popular.

IGTV clearly has a long ways to go before it's on the same level as YouTube, but even this early on in its life has a lot going for it. The interface is easy to understand, it's integrated nicely into an app that billions of people are already using, and anyone can make their own IGTV content and manage it through their phone or a web client.

Download: IGTV (free)

There's more to see with Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is basically Instagram's way of taking Snapchat head-on, and while I briefly mentioned it in this guide, there's not enough time to dive into everything it has to offer.

Thankfully, Hayato already put together a fantastic guide going through absolutely everything you could want to know about Stories. Check it out below!

Instagram Stories on Android: Everything you need to know!