Instagram Takes Down Hundreds of Accounts With Stolen Usernames

Instagram is joining forces with Twitter and several other social media platforms to take down accounts of those users who have engaged in stealing hundreds of single-word usernames.

Such short, enviable handles, also called “O.G. usernames” (think of usernames like @King, @Queen, @Angel, etc.), are valuable because they are catchy and grant status. Users who seized such usernames first were early adopters. The craze to have these O.G. usernames has led to cybercriminals purchasing and selling them on messaging apps and dedicated forums.

After a monthslong investigation by Instagram into, which is the main forum where the selling and trading of such usernames take place, the crackdown finally began last week. The platform found that cybercriminals acquired stolen usernames through blackmailing, hacking, and harassing. Such account handles were then sold for as much as $40,000; such is the craze! For years, this kind of manipulation has gone unchecked to a great extent.

The massive Twitter hack that took place last year, which affected many celebrities and public figures, including former President Barack Obama and Elon Musk, was also reportedly organized on

Many users who had managed to ethically grab such usernames long before the platform became so popular have admitted people offering to buy or trade their username for a good amount of money. Such account owners often receive enticing offers to give up their handles.

However, the desire to obtain such usernames has increased to the extent where people have started getting involved in unethical practices to get their hands on such account handles.

Cybercriminals are trying out different ways to steal these O.G. usernames and then sell them. Among all these tactics, SIM swapping appears to be a preferred method of many cybercriminals to steal covetable Instagram and other social media usernames. In fact, this is the same method that was used to acquire the Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account back in 2019.

However, cybercriminals hunting for O.G. usernames have recently turned to blackmails and harassments. As per Instagram, the people whose accounts the platform took down last week had exposed the owners of such covetable usernames to threats of violence, revenge porn, and swatting. Some of these banned accounts which were involved in such blackmails and harassment had millions of followers.

Admins of popular Instagram accounts have admitted that they have encountered numerous users who take part in this type of behavior online. According to them, these people’s primary goal is to grow their social media pages, and trading O.G. usernames is a good game for many of them. Many owners of such desirable social media handles have faced numerous disturbing and terrifying threats simply because they either refused to give up their username or exposed such activities taking place online.

According to the platform, there were nine cybercriminals behind this illegal capturing of hundreds of Instagram usernames. However, the Instagram ban not just includes these nine users but also the intermediaries or go-betweens who helped organize the trading of accounts on dedicated forums like and encrypted messaging apps like Telegram. Many of these intermediaries are youngsters, comprising teens, who see short O.G. usernames as status symbols for some reason.

It’s evident that people today, especially children, want validation. Children wish to be cool and look cool, but they can also indulge in very risky things to acquire that status.

After observing an alarming boost in account theft and an upsurge in the unethical methods used to obtain usernames, Instagram finally took action back in 2020 and joined forces with Twitter and other social media platforms to find out accounts involved in said activities across multiple platforms.

The social networking giant Twitter also confirmed that they too had banned many users for contravening their policies on spam and manipulation. A Twitter executive said that this investigation was done together with Facebook.

According to Rachel Tobac, a hacker and the chief executive of SocialProof Security, which organizes security training and workshops, this pandemic has driven more and more youngsters into online communities where they can not only earn some dollars but also find comradeship. Further adding to her statement, she said that this is basically due to a lack of support and economic hardship, especially under this ongoing pandemic. Minors getting involved in such cybercrimes is clearly a societal challenge. She also added that there will always be criminals, but we will see people; specifically, children and teenagers, resort to cybercrimes like these due to a lack of support system or specific economic downturn impacting them.

Instagram said that the company is sending out cease and desist letters to people involved in the account thefts to obtain desirable usernames and Instagram is teaming up with the local law enforcement agencies to hold the individuals engaged in these criminal activities accountable.


Even though the platform had earlier banned several meme accounts for contravening Instagram’s terms of service, this recent crackdown is the most public and pivotal action it has taken against individuals manipulating the platform for their profit.

However, some people still feel that while this account ban by Instagram was an excellent initial step, it fails to address the deeper issue at play: youngsters just want to earn money on the platform. They believe that this pandemic has pushed young people to try and make money by hook or by crook, regardless of how scammy it is. Due to the pandemic, they are packed in their houses, have plenty of time to spend on their phones browsing the internet, and many of them have lost their part-time jobs too. According to them, if the platform genuinely wishes to solve this problem, they need to take a much more significant step and start paying content creators so that there will be no reason for users to look for other fishy ways to make money on the platform.

Hariom Balhara is an inventive person who has been doing intensive research in particular topics and writing blogs and articles for E Global Soft Solutions. E Global Soft Solutions is a Digital Marketing, SEOSMOPPC and Web Development company that comes with massive experiences. We specialize in digital marketing, Web Designing and development, graphic design, and a lot more.

SOURCE : Instagram Usernames

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