By Tracey Dowdy
Instagram influencers live their lives on a very public stage – that’s the whole point of being an influencer. They share everything from their favorite granola to their favorite brand of underwear, and everything in between. As it turns out, Instagram inadvertently gave many users a taste of what it’s like to give brands, marketers, and total strangers access to their private information and preferences. According to Tech Crunch Security Editor Zack Whittaker, “A massive database containing the contact information of millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts has been found online. The database, hosted by Amazon Web Services, was left exposed and without a password allowing anyone to look inside. At the time of writing, the database had over 49 million records, but was growing by the hour.”
The database was owned by Chtrbox, an Indian marketing company that connects influencers to brands looking to promote their product or service. Instagram (owned by Facebook) has since revoked Chtrbox’ access to its platform.
Since its inception, Instagram has morphed from a simple photo-sharing platform to an imitation of Snapchat or Facebook, with advertising cluttering your feed. For some Instagram users, the breach was the last straw. If you’re one of them, you can delete your account but it isn’t easy to do from within the app itself. Patrick Holland has a step by step tutorial on CNET’s How to Do It All YouTube channel that will walk you through beginning to end.
Keep in mind, once it’s deleted, it’s gone forever – you will not be able to recover it. If that seems harsh and you just want a break, consider disabling it for a while. By logging out, you have the option to resurrect your profile once you’re ready, but whatever option you choose, be sure to download your data. This is especially critical if you’re deleting your profile – there may be photos in your stream that you’ve forgotten exist but will be important to you down the road – because again, once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can request your download through your browser or through the app, but realize this isn’t an immediate download. It will take time for Instagram to collate all that data, and prepare it for downloading.
If you’re still unsure which option is best, check out Holland’s tutorial Instagram: How to delete or disable your account to determine which is best for youTech
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.