While still relatively small in size, Instagram has become the target of what appears to be a coordinated hacking operation.
Among other unwelcome effects, users are being locked out of their accounts, seeing their profile pictures replaced with animated characters, and even losing their accounts entirely.
While it is not known how many of Instagram’s more than 1 billion monthly users have been hit by the attack, hundreds have taken to Twitter to express their frustration.
Tweeting at Instagram’s Twitter account, one user fumed: “I think it’s time you just admit that there has been a massive security breach,” while another said of her hacking experience: “It sucks! It took me almost 3 weeks to resolve!”
Evidence suggests that Russian hackers might be involved. For example, some victims have seen the emails connected to their Instagram accounts changed to Russia's .ru domain.
Seemingly in response to a story published by Mashable on Tuesday, Instagram finally addressed the issue on Wednesday.
“We are aware that some people are having difficulty accessing their Instagram accounts,” the Facebook unit said in a statement.
While continuing to investigate the matter, Instagram offered some users some tips to better secure their accounts.
For Facebook, Instagram’s value is immense. Indeed, the network is now worth more than $100 billion, according to a recent appraisal by Bloomberg.
Instagram experienced a 13% increase in growth over the past year, according to recent analysis of Nielsen’s domestic digital content consumption data by Pivotal Research.
“Instagram represents a very healthy part of [Facebook’s overall] growth, and we expect that to continue,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, said last month.
More broadly, Facebook is still trying to recover from the Cambridge Analytica controversy, and subsequent privacy breaches.