Three days ago Becky Stone couldn’t log in to @diamondsinthelibrary—one of the oldest and most prominent jewelry Instagram accounts, with over 95,000 followers. She hopped onto Threads, the Twitter-like social app run by Instagram owner Meta, to see if anyone else was having a problem.
Nobody was, but she got a pop-up saying her Instagram account was suspended for violating the platform’s community guidelines. “We don’t allow people on Instagram to pretend to be someone well-known, or speak for them without permission,” it said.
“They thought I was impersonating myself, I guess,” Stone tells JCK. “I haven’t posted pictures of anyone else. Obviously that makes no sense.”
She received an email saying she had 180 days to appeal the suspension—which she did immediately. “The appeal process turned out to be really strange,” Stone says. “They texted and emailed me a bunch of codes that I had to enter, I guess to prove that I was the owner of the account. It didn’t even give me a chance to make my case. It just had me enter codes.”
Ninety minutes after filing the appeal, Stone was notified that not only was the account suspension staying on, but it was permanent. “They said no more appeals,” she says. “It was done.”
To Stone, that message was “horrifying,” as she gets many leads for her writing business from Instagram. “It’s where I am able to demonstrate what I’m able to do. Most of my work is with small jewelry companies. Instagram is the main way I connect with them.”
Stone pays for Meta Verified, which includes “proactive account protection,” but she couldn’t use it once her account had been suspended.
For two days she tried every means she could think of to reach the company—with no success. She filled out the Instagram form to report her account been hacked. She made inquiries using her Facebook account (which still worked). She repeatedly emailed Instagram’s customer support. “Complete radio silence,” she says.
Stone even had a jewelry designer friend of hers, another Meta Verified subscriber, ask for contact information on her behalf. Her friend’s good deed was met with a bizarre threat. “They basically ended up implying if she kept pushing, they would suspend her account, too,” Stone says.
She scoured a sub-Reddit devoted to Instagram for advice. “I was seeing it took people three months or eight months to get their accounts back, horrifying amounts of time,” Stone says. Someone offered her a recommendation for “a guy who knows a guy who could get her account back for $7,000.” She declined.
If all this seems bizarre, the way it was resolved was equally unusual—if perhaps a bit more encouraging.
Stone’s husband contacted their congressman, Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). “I thought it was a long shot,” she says. “He just went through their website. We don’t have a connection there or anything.”
The staffer in Raskin’s office who responded agreed the situation seemed unfair and told Stone to fill out a second form. She provided a detailed explanation of the problem and checked a box that said “I authorize Congressman Raskin to address this incident for me.”
Raskin’s office confirmed it received her request at 2:40 p.m. Monday. Less than an hour later, at 3:32, Stone was notified that, following a “review,” her “permanent” Instagram suspension was over—two days after it began.
“We are sorry we got this wrong and that you weren’t able to use Instagram a while,” said the note from Instagram. “Sometimes we need to take action to keep our community safe.”
Stone has since posted a video on her newly restored account thanking Raskin for “saving my small business and giving me back this account that I’ve spent however many years of my life on. It means more to me than I can say.”
Still, the experience proved unnerving. Stone had let Instagram become important to her, but when she had a problem, she discovered she was not important to Instagram. (Only the member of Congress was.) She still doesn’t understand why her account was flagged and how she could prevent it from happening again.
“I’ve been so grateful that I have an email subscriber list, I have a website, I have other ways to contact people,” she says. “Now I know how arbitrarily and instantly Instagram can be taken away. I’ve had two designers tell me they had something similar happen, and it took them both quite a while [to get their accounts back]…. People are half killing themselves to get more followers on Instagram, and there’s no guarantee it will be around.”
Meta did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
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