NEW DELHI: Instagram is the second most-downloaded app in the world. The Meta (formerly known as Facebook) platform offers various user-friendly features. One such feature is memorialisation, which allows users to report the death of an Instagram user by showing a death certificate, obituary or a news article as evidence. This useful Instagram feature was recently exploited by a scammer. The scammer named Syenrai reportedly locked Instagram CEO out of his own Instagram account by declaring him dead.
According to a report by Vice (Motherboard), the scammer used Instagram’s memorialisation feature that prevents anyone from logging into the account, turning it into a ‘memorialised state’ by adding ‘Remembering’ right next to their profile’s name. The report adds, Syenrai locked Adam Mosseri out of Instagram in the month of September which was confirmed by the platform recently. However, this issue was resolved fast and Mosseri’s account was quickly restored.
In a conversation with Vice, Synerai mentioned that the restoration process for some of the users took days and even weeks, keeping them logged out from their Instagram account.
He also said that he attacked Mosseri’s account to highlight the loophole in the company’s verification process.
Synerai shared an email conversation with Instagram support staff with Vice, which showed how a fake obituary was easily passed off as the real one. Scammers like Syenrai often charge people to ban rival accounts and also target specific individuals for a fee. Synerai also adds that it does not require a lot of convincing to Instagram in getting an account banned.
Synerai told Vice, “I have a method which is as simple as finding an online obituary of a person who recently passed away. I then submit a memorial request for the victim’s account using the random obituary I found, and it takes 1-2 days for support to the process.”
“As long as the obituary is recent (within the same week) the target will be memorialized. It works 98% of the time,” adds Synerai.
Instagram said in a statement to Vice, “Like other internet services, Instagram has online forms to help people report suspicious activity or to let us know a friend or family member has passed away. Unfortunately, some people abuse these forms, so we hire investigators and cybersecurity specialists to detect scammers’ tactics so we can improve and make it increasingly difficult for them.”