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Why Has Facebook and Instagram Been Asking You to Send Them a Picture of Your Gov't-Issued ID?


"This has got to be hacked."

Little more than a week ago, many Instagram users were locked out of their accounts with a demand that they produce some government-issued documentation to prove their identity.

(Image: Wikimedia)

A spokesperson for popular photo-sharing app, which was acquired by Facebook last year, told CNET that users might be asked to upload IDs for verification if their account has been closed due to violations of its terms of use.

CNET reported that Instagram users on a Yahoo! thread were saying Instagram required them to upload a photograph of a government-issued ID "from your desktop computer to validate your identity."

Many on the forum said they thought the notice was a phishing ploy to get personal information.

"The same thing just happened to me and I gave them my driver's license like a moron but I covered up the number," one Yahoo! member wrote. "It was from This has got to be hacked. Where did you email them? I'm trying to navigate their help system."

Some of the messages state that Instagram would accept a photo ID from a reputable institution (not necessarily government issued) if it included one's name and birth date on it.

Talking Points Memo included this image from a similar notice sent to Facebook users:

Facebook asking for users to provide ID (Image: Talking Points Memo)

CNET reported at some under 18 users were being asked to upload birth certificates. Here's more from CNET:

One person reached out to me Saturday morning after his 12-year-old son was locked out of his account. The son, the contact said, was in tears over losing access to Instagram. The father's experience echoes those of forum participants, many of whom noted that their children were being asked to upload photo IDs to verify their birthdates.

The Facebook spokesperson who talked with CNET said specific terms of use violations might shut down an account to an extent that would require a photo ID to reactivate it. But the spokesperson declined to elaborate on exactly what type of violations these were.

What's more, Talking Points Memo pointed out that some users are saying even after providing identification, Instagram is replying that the account still cannot be verified.

Talking Points Memo also included that Facebook declined to say why so many users seem to have been receiving requests for IDs of late.

Instagram came under fire from many of its users earlier this month when it revealed its update to its Terms of Use, which went into effect Jan. 19, stating it would have the right to sell user photos for advertising purposes.



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