Friday Fish: Golden and Delicious

In which we lunch, move into autumn, and recover our Instagram . . .

We had plans to visit my mother-in-law at Homewood and go out to eat together at nearby Traditions restaurant. This was my lunch: a fried haddock sandwich, with crispy, golden, delicious onion rings and curly fries, oh my! It was a fun visit and we spent much of the afternoon sitting in the sunny parlor, laughing and telling stories. Good times!

In other news, the season has turned the cusp, and it's been cooler out. My husband and I have been on two backpacking trips already, and are planning a third, sometime after the hurricane remnants move through. (Speaking of hurricanes, last year we had THREE monarch butterflies eclose during a hurricane. THAT was pretty exciting!)

We've taken the two window air conditioners out, the hummingbird feeders are down and clean and put away, there are flannel sheets on the bed, and we've ordered a really nice plug-in, multi-setting, efficient, electric heater for the bedroom, where the original wall heater unit burnt itself out earlier this year, began to smoke, and scared the crap out of me! The new heater is expected to arrive Tuesday or thereabouts.

In further updates (and sorry, but here is where the update gets LONG), I had talked about my Instagram woes on these pages, but I am back to let you know that against all odds, I've RECOVERED all of my Instagram accounts, with the help of my good friend Debbie, who loaned me her cell phone number so that they can text HER the 6-digit codes you need to recover an account. No, I don't have a cell phone; neither does my husband.

I share the details here in case my experiences can help someone else, for your general amusement (I'm betting most of us have been b*tch-slapped by social media at one point or another), and also, of course, to vent.  ;-) 

The event that started the whole problem: Instagram flagged my original account for not following community guidelines, which I figured meant that I'd been hacked and the hacker had posted something awful pretending to be me. How embarrassing and humiliating. My blood ran cold, imagining the horrible things they may have done, using my account. Oh, man.

The last thing I'd posted on that account before it was suspended was five pictures of sunflowers. I didn't really even know or ever see what had been done to cause the account to be suspended. It was like being accused of a crime you did not commit, but not even being told what you did! The Internet had already decided I was guilty!

So in the meantime, my account disappeared! Yikes! Suddenly, I did not exist on Instagram! When I got to the Instagram login page and searched on my email address, it said that I did not exist. When I tried to create a NEW account using that same email, it informed me that that email was already taken! Wait, what!??

Attempts to reach customer service at Instagram were fruitless. Emails and phone calls sent to the contact points I found via Internet searches yielded me nothing but frustration and redirection back to the online Instagram Help Center.

I created a second Instagram account using a different email address, and in my first posting, mentioned I'd been hacked. Suddenly, hackers crawl out of the woodwork with offers to "help" me recover my original account (yeah, right). A few days later, I got the same message on that second account: account suspended for failure to follow community guidelines. Had it been compromised by one of those hackers who had offered to help, and been unhappy with my non-response? I began to look at everyone around me with great suspicion.

I remembered, eventually, a third email account, and I logged into it and tried to set up a new Instagram account using that one. Before I even made it through the set-up process, I received a notice that my new Instagram account was suspended for failure to follow community guidelines. Wow, was I impressed! Strike three, and you're out!

But along the way, during the time I'd been IN Instagram, I'd managed to "report" someone pretending to be me on Instagram - they had my name on the account and had used my Facebook photo of me holding Dexter on it, which is a picture I have NEVER posted on Instagram! By the way, your Instagram and Facebook accounts are linked, even if you don't know it, so if you get hacked on one, change your passwords on both! You're welcome!

I clicked on the three dots to the right of their profile name and reported them, and I also filled out a full report (hard to fill out an Instagram report if you can't get INTO Instagram, just sayin') and included a picture of a Very Grumpy Me holding my driver's license to prove that I was who I said I was. Debbie also filled out some reports on my behalf, reporting the pretender and reporting that my account had been hacked and that I did not have a cell phone. (The account pretending to be me, with my picture of me holding my beloved kitty-boy, by the way, is still up!)

I think it was around this time that I began to write a very sad poem, possibly a dirge, or lament, called Verses for a Dead Instagram Account. It was a very bad poem, as most poems are, and nothing rhymed.

My friend Debbie and I decided to try to set up a fourth Instagram account as bait for my hacker, for at this point, we figured that someone was actively stalking me and hacking my accounts. By the way, my husband and I had come to the same conclusion. Let me tell you that it's a very bad feeling: thinking that someone you may or may not know is after you on the Internet with ill intent!

So I set up a brand new email account (my 4th one), with no relation at all to the others, and as we were trying to set up my 4th Instagram account, with no relation at all to the other three, I got a message saying it had violated community standards before I even finished setting it up. Now, wait just a doggone minute!

Debbie and I chatted (on Facebook Messenger chat, which is where we mostly hang out) and we both wondered if it was an IP screen keeping me out, which is to say that the account suspension message kept coming up based on the Internet address of my computer.

I did some online searches and learned that that can happen. I learned that it can take 7 to 10 days for Instagram to respond to issues, problems, and reports. I learned that if Instagram detects any suspicious or unusual activity, it may limit your ability to do certain stuff for a few days. Hmmm . . . .

AND . . . I also learned that there is info that Instagram stores on your browser, so clearing your cache of all that stuff might help. I didn't want to just clear my entire cache and lose all of my saved login info for all of my websites.

So I logged out of all Instagram. I am on Firefox, so I right clicked on the Instagram log-in page, selected "inspect," and a pane opened on the lower half of my screen. On that pane, I clicked on "storage." I clicked on Instagram cookies on the lower left, and deleted everything under that! Delete, delete, delete!

Then I tried logging in to Instagram again under the third account I'd created. The message about my account having been disabled due to not following community standards did not appear. It did ask for a cell phone number to text a code to.

My friend Debbie volunteered hers, I typed it in, they sent her a 6-digit code, she sneaker-netted it to me on Facebook chat, I entered it into Instagram, and I was IN!!! Eventually, I cleared my Instagram cookies again, and we managed to get me logged into my original account, after several tries. No access, no access, no access ("I think it's all gone" one of us said sadly on chat), and then suddenly, I was logged into my original account, and EVERYTHING WAS THERE!!!!! Hooray!!!!

Within minutes after that, I actually received an email from Instagram in regard to my original account that was sort of a lukewarm apology; it was all a GREAT BIG MISTAKE, they said, and my account had been restored. And oh, could I please let them know if I encounter any additional difficulties with my account(s)?

So the truth of the matter is this: all along, there probably was NO HACKER!!! None! Just some weird Instagram glitch. I'd posted five photos of sunflowers, got flagged for violating community standards, and spent weeks chasing my tail trying to figure out what had happened so I could fix the problem.

So somehow I've gone from trashing FOUR Instagram accounts within about a week, to having all four work for me again. Go figure, and here's a great big thank you and shout-out to Debbie, my Angel of Instagram!

Now, I've said some mean things about Instagram on here, out of frustration. I said it was a cell phone app pretending to be a web-based app. That is actually true. You really can not recover a compromised Instagram account without a cell phone with texting capabilities, to receive the 6-digit codes.

On the web browser version of Instagram, there is also a glitch that prevents you from uploading or updating a profile picture. No idea why. Overall, though, the browser version now is LOADS better than it was around a year ago, when I was still accessing Instagram by spoofing a mobile device, and logging in using the "View Developer Tools" option, then picking an access option in Chrome! Sheesh!

But during the time I was off Instagram, I could not follow all of the photographers that I had been enjoying - I couldn't even remember all of their NAMES to reconstruct the list! I couldn't see what was up with a few of my favorite Instagram people (someday, Dolly P. WILL love one of my butterfly shots, I just know it!), and I couldn't watch the dancing delights of That Brazilian Couple (sure, they're on Facebook, but it's a lukewarm presence). Yeah, you can see some Instagram things without having an Instagram account, but it's clunky, to be sure.

So now I am back on Instagram, and I have THREE accounts to watch over my one original account. All of them have my friend's cell phone number in them, in case I get hacked and/or need to recover an account. I have a back-up email account identified on each of them, in addition to the original email address used to set up the account. And I plan to download everything from my original account as a back-up. Yes, you can do that!

Whew! That was a long one!
Live and learn!
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

The soundtrack song for the golden and delicious photo above is this one: David Bowie, with Golden Years.

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