Wednesday, November 04, 2015

I get Instagram on my phone, and find a bogus user-name connected to my AOL email

I finally got around to signing up for Instagram last night, and ran into a snag that could have significance. 

After installing the iPhone app, it kept telling me that my AOL email was already in use with an account.  I couldn’t log in with my normal username and chosen password, and then I noticed the emails to me gave a different user name that started with an “@”, “@kd3drud”.  That didn’t work either.  I seemed locked out by a deadly embrace.  But then I saw a link to use if you suspected a third party had set it up.  That disconnected this bogus username and then I was able to use my own username and password and everything worked.
What is scary is that I had not gotten around to using Instagram, being filled by blogging, Facebook and Twitter.  Did this username get set up somehow by an automated script somewhere (maybe on Facebook) or did a hacker set it up with my email? 

There is no evidence that anything was ever posted by it, and I never had heard of any use of Instagram under my email address.   Presumably any content has been removed although it could be cached somewhere, if it exists at all.  Instagram seems to have no phone support to research this if necessary. But in theory this could create a form of “identity theft” that could lead someone open to being framed for offenses ranging from arranging terrorism to trafficking child pornography, with the FBI doing a home invasion at 3 AM someday.  In my social circumstances, “innocent until proven guilty” would not stop the rest of my life from being destroyed, a moral point about social resilience indeed.
A moral of the story is that social media apps you don't even use could set up possible traps. I haven't looked at Snapchat because I have no interest in conducting conversations that way. 
I’ve noticed over the years a constant stream of phishing attempts saying “your mailbox is full” that AOL spam filter doesn’t seem to catch.  So far, I haven’t seen any more of these since fixing this last night.