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4 Reasons Instagram Locks Your Account and How to Prevent It
Instagram locking your account can be stressful, but steering clear of these four actions can help prevent it from happening.
Been getting locked out of your Instagram account lately and have no idea why?
Well, you’re not alone! We’ve been facing a few Instagram account issues ourselves over the past few months. Getting to the root of it all has taken a lot of trial and error.
And we knew if we were getting locked out of Instagram then other businesses likely were, too.
The good news? Getting your account back doesn’t have to be a headache or take forever.
In this post, we’ll share everything we’ve learned about Instagram lockouts. This includes:
- Why Instagram locked your account in the first place
- How to avoid losing access to your Instagram account in the future
- What to do if Instagram does deactivate your account (and how to get it back ASAP)
Top Reasons Instagram Locks Your Account
Instagram isn’t known for providing detailed information on why they lock or disable accounts.
This leaves leaving many brands and content creators frustrated. Rightfully so!
Fortunately, these lockouts are usually just temporary blocks that pose no immediate threat to your account.
But after multiple incidents, Instagram may warn that you’re at risk for suspension or termination. This warning is scary given all the time and effort it takes to build a following.
Even though Instagram may not specifically tell you why your account is locked, we’ve tracked down the most common reasons it happens. We also discovered specific actions you can do to lower the chances of a lockout in the future.
1. You’ve Broken Instagram’s Guidelines
Everything posted on Instagram must adhere to the platform’s Community Guidelines.
If any of your content has been walking the line lately, this might be your cue to dial it back. Common accidentally-broken guidelines include:
- Reposting copyrighted material without permission or credit
- Content that depicts graphic violence (that includes footage of news coverage)
- Ay kind of engagement-boosting bots (such as purchasing likes or followers)
Chances are you haven’t been breaking rules left and right. We’ll give you credit! Still, take a close look at your feed. Double-check that none of your content or activity could be interpreted as breaking the rules above.
2. You’re Logging in With Too Many Different IP/MAC Addresses
When you log in to Instagram, the app detects your:
- IP address (think: AKA your general location)
- MAC address (think: the type of digital device you’re currently using).
How are these details relevant to getting locked out? Well, let’s say your social media team is scattered across the country like ours is. Instagram might see simultaneous login attempts from different locations as suspicious. The platform may then temporarily block you as a precaution.
3. Instagram Thinks You’re Engaging in Spammy Behavior
Instagram is pretty aggressive about identifying spam accounts. This is usually a good thing but not so much when legit accounts get caught in the middle.
If your account appears to be engaging rapidly in any action, you might be flagged as spam.
These activities include:
- Liking posts
- Leaving comments
- Following or unfollowing accounts en masse
If you engage in this type of behavior, Instagram could temporarily block you from these actions. You could get temporarily locked out of your account, too. This is why it’s important to build your following authentically and not take shortcuts!
Don’t recall getting carried away in a “liking” spree? Be sure to double-check any apps you may have connected to Instagram. Sometimes third-party apps will engage in this behavior without your knowledge.
If you’ve ruled that out, talk with your team members. Figure out if your Instagram activity is overlapping. When a handful of team members are engaging with customers or making comments at the same time, you can see how this be viewed by the platform as spam.
In this case, you may want to schedule specific times for team members to log into Instagram. Doing so will limit the number of possible actions being taken at a time.
For more information on what Instagram deems to be spammy behavior, check out our post on shadowbanning.
4. Your Third-Party Apps Might Be Misbehaving
Speaking of third-party apps, they can play a big role in your account getting flagged.
As mentioned above, if any apps connected to your Instagram account are doing anything at an inhuman rate — especially following and unfollowing accounts — this alerts Instagram of bot-like behavior. Even legitimate social scheduling tools have triggered this alert for us!
Another reason you may get this message: Instagram wants to protect you from phishing scams. If your username and password are used on a site that Instagram thinks may be skimming your personal information, the platform takes action. You’ll receive a pop-up upon login warning that your account could be compromised and you should change your password.
How to Prevent Being Locked Out of Instagram in the Future
Maybe you’ve just returned from a temporary block.
Or perhaps you’re paranoid about losing access to your Instagram account in the future.
Hey, we get it!
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
This is the big one. Next time you open Instagram, plan ahead by making sure two-factor authentication is on. To check this, go into “Settings” on your account.
Then, select “Security.” Tap on “Two-Factor Authentication” and ensure that it’s active. Also, double-check that the information you provided is still accurate.
While you’re there, tap on “Additional Methods” and then “Backup Codes.”
Here, you’ll find a set of recovery codes that look like a random string of numbers. These codes are unique to you and each can only be used once.
Backup codes are lifesavers if you get locked out of your account and have no way to authenticate via text or email. Screenshot these and keep them in a safe place. Oh and do not share them with anyone outside of your social team.
For security purposes, we obviously had to block out our own backup codes. We promise you’ll see them on this screen instead of a big teal box!
Remove Extra Devices
To check the list of devices currently logged in to your account, navigate again to “Settings” and then “Security.” Tap on “Login Activity,” and you’ll see a list (and map) of all the devices and locations your account was recently accessed from.
If you find a device that shouldn’t be there or someone forgot to log out, simply tap the three dots next to the device name to log them out remotely. See several unfamiliar devices on this page? Update your password and continue monitoring to prevent future hacks.
Remove Third-Party Apps
Since Instagram has a habit of flagging accounts that have third-party apps connected, removing them can sometimes resolve this issue. You can start by reviewing all of the apps connected to your account and removing any old or unauthorized ones.
To do this, under your “Security” settings, tap “Apps and Websites.” From here, you’ll have the option to disconnect any apps you wish. If you spot any unauthorized apps that weren’t connected by you or your team, change your password.
Unfortunately, even legitimate scheduling tools and grid planners can trigger a phishing message from Instagram. Don’t see any questionable apps connected to your account? Do your research and make sure any tools you’ve connected are verified and trustworthy. If it keeps happening frequently, try a more established and trustworthy tool.
Limit Your Social Media Team’s Logins
As we mentioned above, logging in from too many different IP addresses or MAC addresses can cause Instagram to flag your account.
If your marketing team is accessing your account from all over, consider streamlining the posting process to reduce that traffic. For example, designate one or two team members who do all the manual posting on the app. Then, have everyone else log out permanently.
Sit down with your team and assess your posting needs. From there, figure out if you can limit the number of logins your account has on a daily basis. Alternatively, just create a schedule and stick to it.
What to Do if Instagram Deactivates Your Account
“Ugh. Instagram locked me out again!”
Getting deactivated is frustrating. Trust us, we’ve been there.
In fact, we have plenty of firsthand experience on how to regain access to a locked Instagram account. Statusphere’s own Alexa Groat has dealt with deactivation twice.
Below is Alexa’s story of going from locked out to back in control of her account in a few hours:
“There was no reason behind it. I know this is not an uncommon issue for creators and brands. I’ve been locked out before.
THANKFULLY I know the trick to getting your account back!
I started the recovery process at 8:30 AM. After chatting with someone from Instagram for about 15 minutes, I just had to wait for an update. That’s it! I was reactivated by noon which feels like record timing.
I know some accounts never get reactivated. I think it’s because they don’t know how to efficiently get in touch with someone who can help.”
Bottom Line: Your Instagram Needs to Work!
Where you can’t live without Instagram or rely on it for business, getting locked out is bad news.
Hopefully the steps above can get you back into your account sooner rather than later.
And if you ever do get locked out again, don’t panic!
We see it happen all the time. It’s an especially big problem for businesses and brand teams that share Instagram accounts.
When multiple employees are DMing customers or creators at the same time, Instagram can see that as a red flag. This results in a lockdown and brings your outreach efforts to a grinding halt.
Not ideal, right? If DMs or influencer outreach is giving you a headache, consider how you can avoid pitching people on Instagram altogether.
At Statusphere, we match your brand with influencers from our reliable network and get them ready to post about your products at the push of a button. No DMs, shipping or post tracking is required – we take care of it all.
Want to know how the process works? Chat with one of our influencer marketing experts about your Instagram marketing goals and how we can help you meet them.
Originally published August 8, 2021. Last updated June 24, 2022.