If you like other users have been hit with a temporary shutdown of your account on either Instagram or Facebook service lately, it's likely that the photo-sharing service and/or its parent company, Facebook, is asking you to verify your identity. And to do so, either service wants you to send an official photo ID of you.
These reports, which CNET first covered Tuesday, are a result of Instagram's new terms of service, which came into effect on Jan. 19.
The users at first were understandably worried that their accounts were hacked. But Talking Points Memo confirmed Friday that the ID requests were actually legitimate.The verification is seemingly part of a new round of checks by Facebook and Instagram for those who appear to be violating either service's Terms of Service – although a spokesperson wouldn't go into additional details as to what, specifically, could prompt a verification check.
"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," a Facebook spokesperson told Talking Points Memo. "Unfortunately, I can’t share more with you beyond that as we don’t go into details beyond that."
Identification is usually requested in cases when the social networks suspect that their terms of services have been violated. It aims to confirm who's behind an account, and perhaps to determine whether a user is underage (the minimum age to use both services is 13).
Instagram doesn't require users to provide their real names, so it's unclear why the photo-sharing app would ask for official ID.
Facebook, on the other hand, does ask that its users, "will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission," which does give at least a bit of reasoning for why the company would demand certain users to verify their accounts with real-world identification.
Instagram's terms of service give the company the right to "refuse access to the Service to anyone for any reason at any time."
According to CNET, users subjected to the verification process are first told that their accounts have been "secured" and that they need to log into Instagram from a desktop computer in order to proceed forward with the validation process. Once they do so, they're asked to take a photograph of a government-issued ID and upload it.