A number of Instagram users have found they’re no longer able to temporarily disable their accounts – a feature, similar to Facebook’s, that allows you to take a break from the social network for a period of time, but stops short of a full account deletion. The bug has been spotted in the wild since at least February, and is the subject of a number of complaints across social media, including Reddit, Quora, and Twitter since that time.
As Instagram’s own Help documentation explains, the account disabling feature will temporarily hide your profile, photos, comments and likes until you choose to reactivate your account by logging back in. The option to disable is only available when you log in via a mobile browser or computer – it’s not a setting you can reach through Instagram’s native mobile app, to be clear.
Many people use features like this when taking short social media breaks, as a disabled account can help you avoid the temptation of launching the app or wasting time browsing the feed.
In some cases, it’s a first step for those considering a full account deletion – an experiment to see if it’s worth giving up the app entirely. People also disable their accounts when they need to focus on something important – like a big project at work or exams at school, for example. Plus, the feature can aid when there are privacy concerns of some kind, such as when someone is a victim of cyberbullying or cyberstalking and needs to get off the service for a while.
There are a number of other personal reasons why people take breaks, too.
In Instagram’s case, you’re able to disable your account once a week, but the problems being reported are not from people who are trying to switch off their account more often than that – the feature just isn’t working at all, they’re saying.
In addition, according to many complaints, Instagram’s feature has been broken for some time and they’re not able to get any help through technical support channels.
After attempting to click the feature from their “Edit Profile” section, users say they’re directed to their feed on Instagram’s homepage, but their account remained active. People said they’ve tried this in different web browser, as well, to see if it was a bug associated with just one platform. However, the problem remained.
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Users said that Instagram’s support email wasn’t working and they were told to report the problem in the app through an email auto-responder. But flagging bugs in the app is only a one-way street – you’re not sent any response or offered help. Others tried reaching out to Instagram through social media channels like Facebook messages and tweets, but the company hadn’t responded those complaints, either.
This speaks to a broader problem with Instagram support – users are struggling to get help when their accounts are hacked, spammed, or shut down for violations. (Just read the barrage of comments on its Facebook page, for instance.) And Instagram’s Help Center is not much help on these matters, either.
For instance, a link on its homepage that you can click to “learn more” about what to do when you’re experiencing an issue just goes to a dead page – a “5xx Server Error” page is all that displays when clicked.
We reached out to Instagram this morning for a comment on the bug, and to find out if there is a plan to address the problem.
Following our initial inquiry, clicking the option to disable your account now takes you to a broken web page. “Sorry, something went wrong,” the page now reads. “We’re working on it and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can,” it says.
It’s unclear if this is related to the stability issues that briefly took the site an app down worldwide earlier today.
Hopefully, that means engineers are working on a fix. But Instagram doesn’t have a comment on the situation at this time. A rep for the company said Instagram is looking into the problem, and will let us know when more information becomes available.