instagram

Insta-Hacked

I like to think of myself as being rather geekily inclined.  Certainly I’m no stranger to hacks and people doing surreptitious things online.  Even so, I managed to become a victim of the latest (and not so greatest) hack that’s being perpetrated on Instagram in the past few months.

In the hack, someone asks for your assistance in ‘getting their account back’, or manages to dupe you into accepting a text message from them, that includes a link.  What you’re unaware of (and they usually tell you several times NOT to click on it) is that the link they’re sending you is a password reset of YOUR account, not theirs.  While you’re being distracted by their claiming (after you screenshot the link and copy it to them via Instagram) that nothing is yet happening, either they or someone they’re working with are behind the scenes, logging into your account and kicking you out.  Instagram almost wholly allows them to do this, because they’re utilizing a security process whereby under normal circumstances you can get back into your account if you somehow locked yourself out by processes that might be completely innocent.  Once they’ve gained access, they then change your password, change your email address and then to add insult to injury, enable the two-step verification, making it nearly impossible for you to legitimately regain access to your account.

So, this is what happened to me.  It was this past Saturday, I was getting ready for work and not paying attention.  Too, I was on my tablet, which doesn’t have email access, and the hackers lucked into a perfect situation.  Someone on my followers list (I’m not going to list the account here, as it wasn’t her but they perpetrating the hack) messaged and said innocently enough ‘Can you do me a favor?  I’ve been locked out of my main account and need assistance getting back in.  Instagram isn’t being helpful.’  Which as we will learn later, is all too often the case.  Instagram, being a program under the umbrella of Meta, doesn’t have what one would call a customer service system.  They do, but not to you and me.  IF I had millions of followers and this happened, they’d be falling all over themselves to assist.  Me, with my measly 300+ followers, no such luck.

Getting back to the situation.  I should have ignored the message, but it tugged on my heart strings just the right amount (classic damsel in distress issue) and I thought, what could be the harm?  [Well I found out just how much harm in the next couple of days.]  But, I digress.

So I bit at the apple and went to work, after (stupidly) telling the hacker I was going to be out of touch for 8 hours, since I was going to work.  So they had plenty of time to do what they were going to.  And they went ahead and did their dirty work.

By lunch time, when I went to check on my IG account, I was logged out.  I tried to log back in but my password didn’t work.  I didn’t have a lot of time to do anything, so I figured it was a glitch, and I’d fix it when I got home.  But that didn’t work either, and it was the weekend, which definitely worked in the favor of the evil doers.  After trying many different things, I went to my email program and discovered that my email address on the account had been changed.  So I couldn’t get a reset code to work, as I no longer had access in that manner.  Going to help service online was frustrating, because the hackers had instituted the two-step verification, thwarting my attempts at getting my account back.

Emailing the new owner of the account would be pointless, they weren’t interested in giving it back, so that avenue wasn’t possible.  I did have a Facebook account at one time connected to the IG account, but had long ago discontinued it so they were unable to hack that as well.  As I later learned, I might have been able to regain access if I DID still have the two connected, since the FB account had the 2-step verification active, hence there wasn’t a way for the assholes to gain access to that as well.

Back to the issue at hand.  Going through IG’s medieval, laughing-stock of a help service wasn’t doing me any good.  I went to YouTube and started watching videos of others’ experiences, but after understanding that this type of hack has been going on for many months, and there ARE ways of getting one’s account back, usually they include being able to get Instagram to do basic facial recongition through the use of a video you make and pictures on your account of yourself.  Generally people do have pictures of themselves, and that helps.

In my case I used the account for BDSM purposes mainly and having my face on the account wasn’t a big priority.  So in essence I screwed myself out of getting the account back there too.  I did try to report the account as being fraudulent, in that it was impersonating me, but IG shot that down.  The hacker is using the ‘story’ feature to spam the account (and my followers list) so that none of the ‘new’ posts stay on the account.  They’re covering all the angles, and being very surreptitious in making sure they stay in control of it.  Pissing me off in the process.

I did find a video on YT that said there’s a way of getting the account back, but it’s so involved I’d be hard pressed to be able to do anything about it.  Basically I’d have to turn my life upside down in order to be ready when (or if) Instagram would give me the opportunity to get the account re-registered to me.  I don’t have large chunks of my day to spend waiting for an email or message to show up.  I can’t carry my phone at work, so that negates time that might be THE TIME when IG is allowing me access again.  At this point I’m going to use my pet’s account, message my followers outside of the account itself (through a new account that I created) and ask them to either block the account or stop following as the account IS compromised and apparently will remain so.

It would be nice if a multi-billion dollar company like Meta/Facebook could treat ALL of their customers the same, but that’s never been the case, and it never will be.  They tout how wonderful it is to have free access to social media, but if there’s ever a problem, they tend to wash their hands of it, unless it’s affecting someone that’s contributing a great deal to their bottom line.  Everyone else can pretty much go pound sand.

I’m sorry this happened to me, and to the people that follow me on Instagram.  Just managed to lose a little more of my trust and innocence over the last week.  Whoever you are, hacker;  Fuck you.

 

It can’t be just me that thinks…

…Tumblr really hasn’t changed all that much for those that mostly post porn. Sure there are far fewer naked’y’ [explicit] pictures but for the most part, the pictures that are posted on the strictly porn accounts still have nudity, leather, latex, rubber and other styles of dress, just for the most part the nudity is from the side, or from the back, not front-facing. So, the Tumblrgeddon that occurred this past December wasn’t as far-reaching or disastrous as we all expected. Add in the knowledge that Verizon seems to understand they sort of ‘cut off their nose to spite their face‘ in this, and they’re already looking for a buyer to take the platform off their hands. Whoever they find to buy it is going to be getting a bargain, since their foray into censorship has cost Tumblr a good third of their clientele. A lot of people moved off the site after the censorship of late last year. Sites like pillowfort, BDSMlr have taken a lion’s share of their former kink friendly accounts. Even on my feed (I backed up all of my accounts but being me, I didn’t delete any of them) I can see a pile of deactivated accounts being referenced by some of the ones still active, reblogging the same pictures over and over.

Whether or not that will change with the selling of the platform is anyone’s guess. The buyer might prefer to keep the service as clean as it can be, given that it’s a pretty open site, to begin with. How else would those that were interested in adult-friendly services (and service) have started to use it for their purposes? Tumblr didn’t start out being a G-rated site. If anything, it seemed to be a step up from Stumbleupon, another site that I used to use (and still have an account on, though I haven’t been there in ages). Similar premise, but they did it a little differently (much like the difference between VHS and Beta) and ended up becoming more popular. It’s always hard to tell what’s going to work and what’s not. I mean, people in France put mayo on their fries and wouldn’t dream of using ketchup. Here in the US, I had never heard of putting gravy on fries until I moved to where I’m living now. Pop is sometimes soda, and soda is sometimes soda water. Cats and dogs living together…Mass hysteria!! (ahem…sorry, got carried away there a bit)

Even so, a site like Instagram has looked at the Tumblr model, and instead of seeing a bad idea, they decided to jump on the bandwagon. Many kink-friendly accounts that have been there long-term are starting to get pushed out, and are taking their business elsewhere. I’ve posted about catering to the Lowest Common Denominator before and I believe this is systematic of that problem. Instead of treating everyone like adults, we’re attempting to treat them as children, ie not offending anyone if we can help it. Instead of allowing people to make their own informed decisions, we’re allowing companies and entities (and yes governments too!) to both legislate and dictate what’s acceptable and what’s not. That’s pretty high school thinking, to my mind. Making the majority of the popular ones (which end up being a minority) decide for the rest of us. That never works out for the best, since the majority rarely has the best interests in mind. Usually, it’s their best interests they’re considering and to hell with the rest of us.

All in all, I’m not certain where Tumblr is going to go. But it will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Catering to the LCD

A post from a scene friend on Tumblr yesterday gave me pause about something that has been niggling in the back of my head for some time now.
It has to do with the BDSM scene and kink in general and how society as a whole seems to be attempting to deal with it on the Internet as well as elsewhere. For a while now, those of us in the kink community have been pretty closed off and content with that considering how open society views the scene. Generally, if you’re labeled as ‘kinky’, you’re considered to be on the ‘outside fringes’ and well worth keeping a distance from. Certainly, people who are kink friendly have shown up in news reports doing ‘odd’ things like walking their girlfriend through a mall in NY as if she was a dog or pet. Personally, I think that’s an extreme case and not really the best way to put your best ‘kink foot forward’ since a mall is a place where children are likely to be present, and you’re causing others to be privy to what you normally do in the privacy of your own home. Doing it at an event that’s specifically geared towards kink practices is one thing, out in public where you’re making others uncomfortable is not. So I can easily understand how sites like Facebook and Tinder would be less inclined towards those that promote themselves as being kink friendly.

Less so for sites like Tumblr and Instagram. In December of last year, came an event that unofficially was dubbed ‘Tumblrgeddon’, where the owners of the site decided that they were going to almost unilaterally remove a good deal of porn from their servers, and effectively sequester the rest as much as the could. If you had an account that was strictly geared towards kink, or porn, whether it was yours or just being reposted, it was excised from public view. Worse yet, if you had anything that (in their rather poorly stated words) promoted “female-presenting-nipples“, it was summarily banned or hidden from others’ view. So essentially 90% of people who were working with accounts that were kink related had to find somewhere else to put their interest. Within a couple of days, enterprising people were setting up sites called pillowfort.io, bdsmlr.com, Humblr.com as well as others that wished to freely accept anyone that wanted to leave Tumblr.

Within the last month or so, Instagram has more or less decided to do the same. (I note that it’s not a coincidence that Instagram is owned by Facebook btw) About 3 weeks ago one of my Insta accounts was deactivated by TPTB (The Powers That Be) and I received notice that it was mine no longer and it wasn’t going to be reactivated due to a violation of the TOS. When I asked what the violation was, they wouldn’t tell me. I’ve heard about others that have had similar experiences, much like when you’re relegated to ‘Facebook Jail’ and they won’t divulge the reason you ended up there. Just that you’re going to be offline for a specific period of time and that’s that. The people who run these sites know they’re in the catbird seat, and you’re basically powerless to do anything about getting censored. You can lament all you want about how ‘unfair’ its become, but anymore they’re the only game in town. It’s certainly become far more difficult in the last 20 years in terms of connecting with like-minded individuals of the kink persuasion, as the sites to which we’re allowed to gather become more and more restricted. People talk about ‘Freedom of Speech’ but that doesn’t apply to multi-national conglomerates or these companies that, like Wal-Mart in a way, gather millions of people on their servers, and squash (or buy then liquidate) the smaller websites that might do the same thing, but when they’re the only game in town, things become far more restricted. Especially when those companies become publicly traded entities. When Facebook was a private company, it did things very differently than now when they’re beholden to shareholders.

Just a FYI, for those that say Twitter or Fetlife are suitable alternatives, honestly they’re really not. Twitter doesn’t have the same capabilities of a Tumblr or Instagram, and Fetlife by its very nature isn’t a personals site. Yes, people use it as if it was one, but that’s not the purpose of the site. About the only reason that Fetlife hasn’t been more restricted or censored is the fact that the home servers are located in Canada. If they were located in the US, they probably by all purposes would have been shut down by now. I equate the current situation to what happened to the website Insex around the time it ceased production around 2005. At that time, there was another Republican Administration in the US in power and by and large they were cracking down on a lot of US porn (and kink) producers, stating that the money that they were making was being sent to purveyors of terrorism (a huge lie) and many sites were being shut down or being threatened with lawsuits. The creator of Insex decided on his own that he was going to shut down the site, and move the content outside of the US (to the Netherlands to be specific) so as not to lose his work to a sudden possible seizure by said government. Which was actually possible. At the same time, he created several other sites that were a LOT tamer in comparison to the original, and they’ve been operating for the most part ever since. Though as of this writing, they’re slowly being updated infrequently, and probably in a few more years won’t be around at all. The original creator of Insex is now in his 70s, and as I understand it has mostly retired from active online participation. He has basically one ‘apprentice’ that carries on his work in Oregon, but he’s a mere shadow of the ‘The Source’, where all the diabolical ideas came to life way back in a little place in Brooklyn circa 1995.

Getting back to the title of this, it’s my opinion that we’re increasingly catering to the Lowest Common Denominator in many things and Kink seems to be no less of a victim. It’s sad to see how far we’re falling, and how it’s all going to play out over the next few years.