Fact Check

Instagram Cancellation Hoax

Is Instagram overloaded and about to cancel the accounts of users who don't follow the instructions in a posted message?

Published Mar 6, 2014

Claim:   Instagram is overloaded and is about to cancel the accounts of users who don't follow the instructions in a posted message.


Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, March 2014]


Origins:   A common form of hoax perpetrated on Internet users since the late 1990s is the claim that some particular popular free service, whether it be Gmail, Facebook, YouTube, or the like, is "overloaded" or "losing money" or experiencing some other crippling technical crisis that

requires them to purge the accounts of users unless those account holders follow the instructions contained in a particular message, typically directing them to forward or repost that message. In March 2014 the popular online photo-sharing site Instagram was the latest target of this perennial jape. (See our primary article on the history of this hoax.)

The bottom line is that it's the same leg-pull no matter which e-mail, instant messaging service, or social networking site is mentioned, how authoritative the signature appears to be, or how fancy the visual presentation of the exhortation to forward the letter to all your buddies.

Last updated:   6 March 2014


    Reuters.   "Fake E-Mail Threatens to Cut Microsoft Hotmail Users."

    The New York Times.   1 July 2000.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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