Multiple reports suggest Facebook and Instagram users are suddenly being locked out of their accounts without explanation. And the only way to regain access is to provide an image of a government issued ID. Apparently, a select number of users have been asked to confirm their identities for one reason or another, with a Facebook spokesperson deeming requests for photo ID “general practice.” It isn’t anything I’ve ever heard of.
The initiative is apparently part of Facebook pursuit to verify accounts; maybe as a way to take down spam accounts. However, Instagram, as The Verge notes, lets people freely use pseudonyms. So, then, what terms are these Instagram users violating? The Facebook spokesperson wouldn’t go into detail, only to say that IDs are requested “depending on what type of violation may have occurred.”
The worrying part, though, is that some IDs aren’t even being accepted, according to Talking Points Memo. In these particular cases, Facebook and Instagram users are being ask to provide even more personal documentation, including birth certificates. Facebook initially begun examining identities for those users with a large number of subscribers, but has since broadened its reached to typical users.
It seems very odd indeed, and it’s made all the more weird by Facebook’s nebulous statement regarding the matter. Unless there is a clear violation of Instagram’s fourteen basic terms—no nudity, no harassment, etc.—it’s odd the photo service would cut off accounts for issues outside of those guidelines. Neither entity commented further about the policies. This surely isn’t the end of this one.