- Angry users flood message boards after being locked out of their accounts and receiving notification they had to submit ID which they presume was a scam
- Facebook spokesman confirms yesterday it was an official request and it can require ID if a user is suspected of violating terms of service
- Many left frustrated as site fails to respond to emails or refuses to accept ID put forward
Dozens of Instagram and Facebook users have been left frustrated and alarmed after both sites locked them out of their accounts this week and demanded copies of Government-approved ID to allow them to regain access.
Online comment threads were inundated with questions from concerned users on Tuesday who thought the approach was a phishing scam, CNET reported.
However, yesterday it was confirmed the request was official and users would need to follow the strict instructions in order to get their accounts reactivated.
ID grab: Facebook and Instagram have angered users this week by demanding they send in copies of their government ID.
Under fire: Users have hit out at heavy-handed security tactics employed by Instagram and parent company Facebook this week. Dozens of users were locked out of their accounts and had to provide official ID
Facebook, which is the parent company of photo-feed site Instagram, said the request was within their rights and would have been sent out due to a suspected violation of their terms of service by the account user.
A spokesman for Facebook told Talking Points Memo: 'This is just a general practice for both Facebook and Instagram to request photo IDs for verification purposes depending on what type of violation may have occurred.'
Facebook's terms of service guards against suspected fake accounts while both sites threaten to bar users thought to be under the age of 13 or who harass others amongst other conditions.
Facebook wouldn't comment on the specific violations taking place this week and also failed to explain why so many notifications seemed to have taken place in one go.
Instagram updated its terms of service on January 19 which could account for the sudden number of accounts being disabled there, according to TPM.
'We reserve the right to modify or terminate the Service or your access to the Service for any reason, without notice, at any time, and without liability to you,' the new terms state.
Other instances of requests for official ID from Facebook date back to 2010.
To the frustration of many users disrupted this week not all IDs were being accepted, with both sites sending follow up emails requiring more documentation.
The email said ID must include 'your full name and date of birth' and without a Government ID users would need to upload a copy of a photo ID from a company or university plus a copy of their birth certificate.
ID request: Users of photo-feed website Instagram received this message this week - causing many users to fear they had been hacked
Notice: Facebook users received this message. Many expressed frustration that their ID was not accepted or that it took days for Facebook to respond
Demanding: Facebook and Instagram say they need official government ID, like a passport or driving licence, or users need to submit a photo ID plus a copy of their birth certificate
Some users who have been targeted said they were later told by Facebook that it had made a mistake or have been left waiting days without access to their account or response to their emails.
One user wrote: 'I was a bit wary about sending such confidential information on the Internet, but ended up sending an ID...About 8 hours later, I received an e-mail from a person addressing themselves as "Frank" from the Facebook Team, telling me that after investigating my case further, they came to the conclusion that my Facebook was restricted for NO REASON, and the service has made a mistake.'
Another user wrote on Yahoo Questions: 'The EXACT same thing is happening to me and TONS of other people, we're not alone...For Facebook this has been an issue going on for a couple years but for Instagram, it's pretty recent and I'm going to wait to turn in my ID for them, tons of people are complaining and they better do something about it.'
Another added: 'I have also been locked out of both Facebook and Instagram ... with no explanation and no status update. I uploaded my Id but I don't get a response back. Friends and Family said they can still see my account...Not sure why I was targeted.'
Instagram is used by up to 90million people world-wide while Facebook had 1 billion active users as of October 2012.