Motherboard reported that Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri's Instagram account was temporarily locked this September after a scammer managed to convince the social media's moderators of the executive's death.
The scammer with the nickname Syenrai made Instagram moderators believe their boss was dead by taking advantage of the memorialization feature, which one can use to inform the moderators about the death of the owner of the Instagram page. Using this feature, you can ask the moderators to lock the account so that it cannot be edited, deleted, or even logged into by third-party users, even if they have a password to it.
To memorialize an account, you must provide a death certificate or confirm the death of a person by providing a link to an obituary or a news article. The scammer behind the blocking of Mosseri's account told Motherboard that they created a fake obituary and posted it online to convince the social media support team that Mosseri was dead. Syenrai provided journalists with screenshots of their conversations with the moderators. Based on the fake obituary, the Instagram head's account was memorialized.
An Instagram representative said that when considering the request to memorialize an account, the moderators compare the photos, name, and date of birth in the obituary and the requested account.
Instagram confirmed the blocking of Mosseri's profile and said the company quickly resolved the problem. However, according to Syenrai, although the Instagram executive's account was quickly restored, other users targeted by such scams may not be able to regain access to their profiles for days or weeks.
To block users with less than a million subscribers, scammers provide Instagram with obituaries of recently deceased people from the Internet, even if the name in them does not match the account. Therefore, the social network is hiring investigators and cybersecurity specialists to identify the tactics of scammers and improve the feature. Instagram noted that users who stated that they were mistakenly assigned a memorialized account are given access to the account if they can confirm that they really are its owners.