Social Media

Instagram announces verification requests, transparency tools and stronger 2FA

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Instagram has introduced a wide-ranging set of new tools today with security and transparency in mind. In a blog post titled “New Tools to Keep Instagram Safe,” the company is announcing three significant updates: an “About This Account” section to provide users more context about accounts with large followings, a form through which accounts can request a coveted blue verified badge and support for third-party authenticator apps.

Instagram’s new “About This Account” section is designed to give users more information that they can use when evaluating the legitimacy of an account. The feature will be available by tapping the menu button from an account with substantial reach and will provide information like when an account was created, the country in which it is based, accounts that share followers and a lineage of that account’s username changes over the last year.

The feature will also link accounts with large audiences to the Instagram ads they are running, a nod to recent conversations around ad transparency in light of Russian government-sponsored political ads and disinformation seeping into social platforms.

According to Instagram, “In September, people who have accounts that reach large audiences can review the information about their accounts that will soon be publicly available.” When that period is over, the About This Account tool will launch to users around the globe.

The second major Instagram change will offer accounts a path toward verification on the platform, standardizing a process that’s generally been opaque. A blue verified badge can be requested through a user’s own profile by tapping the menu icon, choosing Settings, and “Request Verification.” Instagram will then review the request, asking users to “provide your account username, your full name and a copy of your legal or business identification,” information that will not be made available to the public.

Last but certainly not least, Instagram is adding support for third-party authenticator apps like Google Authenticator and DUO Mobile that provide more robust methods of two-factor authentication (2FA). The move is a long-anticipated effort to make Instagram more robust against threats to user accounts that target text-based 2FA, which is notoriously vulnerable to sim hijacking attacks.

“We’ve been focused on the safety of our platform since the very beginning, and today’s updates build upon our existing tools, such as our spam and abusive content filters and the ability to report or block accounts,” Instagram co-founder and CTO Mike Krieger said in a statement about the updates.

“We know we have more work to do to keep bad actors off Instagram, and we are committed to continuing to build more tools to do just that.”

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