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No, Instagram is not mass deleting accounts – resume your normal lives, everyone

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See the photo above? It’s a hoax. Instagram is not purging accounts, and even if it were, putting a hashtag in front of your photo can’t stave off technical difficulties.  Many users reported last night that they saw their accounts disappear – and the complaints came fast and furious on Twitter, while people who still had access to their accounts (the vast, vast majority of users) launched a nonsensical, purposeless hashtag offensive to keep their profiles active. Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10.58.45 AM

If you look at the people furiously posting #dontdeletemyaccount photos on Instagram (well over a million photos have been tagged with this plea and similar missives), you’d think Instagram is swiftly eradicating rogue accounts. It’s really impressive how much outrage social media users can drum up in such a short period of time. But before you join in on the furor, however, know that it’s a complete scam.

In case this hasn’t been made clear yet: Instagram is not mass deleting accounts. If you’re tagging your photos with #dontdeletemyaccount, you’re not helping yourself, and you’re helping the rumor go viral. Though the widely circulated picture above attributes the problem to technical difficulties, other users were saying that Instagram was getting rid of accounts that didn’t use the in-app camera. Both of these reports are false.

It’s not petty because it’s not real.

(You do have to admire that entrepreneurial spirit.)

So what actually happened, and why is everyone freaking out?

An Instagram spokesperson tells us in reality, the accounts that were deleted were simply subject to a system error. “A small percentage of users could not access their accounts for a few hours as a result of a temporary glitch. We have restored access for these users, and no pictures or data were lost.”

People really need their Instagram fix – and with high profile users like Tyler, the Creator complaining about seeing their accounts repeatedly deleted, it’s not totally surprising that users would take these random account lock-outs as a harbinger for a larger-scale crackdown.

But a crackdown on what? Instagram does delete accounts when they catch them violating the Terms of Service, but a mass deletion makes zero sense. Instagram is a valuable company because of its thriving, loyal user base. Deleting accounts – even though not using the in-app camera – is such a ridiculous move, we’re a little shocked so many users fell for it. Save that indignation for something that really matters, my filtered-photo-loving lovelies … like the next Facebook Timeline revamp.

Shai Simpson gets it: