Instagram Hijacked An Account to Give It to Soccer Star

Illustration for article titled Instagram Hijacked An Account to Give It to Soccer Star

Andres Iniesta is a Spanish soccer star, captain of FC Barcelona and player on the national team. A different Andres Iniesta is a regular guy from Madrid, and owner of the @ainiesta Instagram account. Or at least, he was.

According to a post written by the non-sports-star Iniesta, his Instagram account was spontaneously frozen on Thursday, thanks to alleged Terms of Use infringements. But the handle was then quickly re-populated as the account of the famous Andres Iniesta, making it seem rather likely that the account was shut down, with no prior warning or discussion, to give it to a soccer star.

Following the story on Medium, it seems that Instagram has restored the account to its rightful owner, and the soccer player is now using @andresiniesta8 (and already up to 5.4 million followers, for that matter). Brands taking over accounts that are being squatted on is commonplace, but a unilateral takeover of a completely legitimate account — and in such a seemingly shady way — is a dirty move.


Update: In a brief statement provided to Gizmodo, Instagram seems to have confirmed the story, and apologized for the “mistake”:

We made a mistake here and restored the account as soon as we learned about it. Our apologies go out to Mr. Iniesta for the trouble we caused him.

Update 07/20: In a fuller statement provided to Mr Iniesta, Instagram says it saw Iniesta’s account as an imposter account, and shut it down; it wasn’t doing the bidding of a celebrity:

I want to sincerely apologize for the trouble we caused you by deactivating your Instagram account by mistake.

It was an error on our part, pure and simple. We inadvertently identified your account as an impersonator — even though it obviously is not. As soon as we were made aware of the mistake we reactivated your account. We’re working to put in place new internal processes so that this doesn’t happen again. I also want to make clear that neither the soccer player Andrés Iniesta, nor his representatives, had anything to do with this incident.

I know you also made multiple attempts to reach Instagram to get an explanation, without success. Nothing is more important to us than our community, and there’s no excuse for our failure to be responsive in what I know was a very frustrating experience. For that we also apologize.



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It happens. I have run a large online forum for Delawareans for years now. We also had a facebook page at for years. Then one day I wake up and have an email from Facebook that I need to choose a new name for my page. The News Journal if Delaware’s biggest news paper, they are owned by Gannett, their website is They apparently complained to Facebook and Facebook just took the name I had for at least 3 years, just like that.