Is someone attempting to impersonate me on Instagram?

I am in the process of deleting my social media profiles. Thus far, I have deleted my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. LinkedIn was something I had joined, but never really got around to use. During the tumultuous Brexit and Trump years, as well as at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I was checking my Twitter feed frequently, and it was very much a case of ‘doomscrolling’ and sitting in an echo chamber. I had initially cut back on the use of Twitter, then uninstalled the app from my smartphone, and finally deleted my accounts, in a process that lasted about a year. Like many other things, Twitter is a useful tool for many people: it just wasn’t right for me. Perhaps this urge to delete is a symptom of midlife crisis. Who knows. What I am absolutely certain about is that I am too old for TikTok. Anyway, I have largely dormant Facebook and Instagram profiles. My plan is to delete them, at least Instagram, at some point in the future. My Facebook account is essentially frozen in time: I had added a number of people while at university, when Facebook was the shiny new thing and MySpace was still the rage, and I haven’t been using Facebook intensively since those early days. I have added a few contacts over time, but my Facebook account is a faint reminder and a curious relic of a past long gone. That bare thread to the past is the only reason I hesitate to delete my Facebook account. The only social media platform I use and intend to keep for the medium term is Pinterest: I don’t use it socially, but it has been a good source of traffic to this site, given the number of images hosted.

This decision to get out of social media when it is becoming ubiquitous may be a strange one. For many people social media is the preferred way to communicate, and e-mails are becoming as quaint as sending postcards and pigeons. Everything is fast, immediate, connected. No time to think, yet a prompt answer is required. Often there is an audience too, not just communication between the two parties. All our lives are digital public acts, and all the digital world’s a stage. However I am a curmudgeon, getting grumpier by the day. The last thing the internet needs is yet another middle-aged man wittering on about something that annoys him, which is most things in life and most things happening in the world, and proffering his opinions about everything, though about which he has no clue. At least not on social media. This site feels like the right place for such blathering.

Given this retreat from social media, it came as a surprise to receive an e-mail from Instagram, who sent me a confirmation code for an account I did not create.

Apparently someone used my public e-mail address for this site to sign up for an Instagram account. The Instagram account I have, which I am mulling over to delete, is associated with my personal e-mail address. Given that this site isn’t popular or influential, I am intrigued and slightly disturbed that anyone would do that. But then I have been surprised how often spammers attempt to send out e-mails purported to come from this domain, as the increasingly bulky pile of DMARC reports can testify. Instagram asked me to enter the code if I had created the account. As it wasn’t me, I simply ignored it, as there was nothing else I could do, though it would have been nice to let Instagram know that someone had attempted to open an account to impersonate me. For what purpose? The mind boggles. I guess attempting to create an account would establish that there isn’t an account already associated with that e-mail address, but I am not sure what more can be achieved by knowing that.

If you receive a message via Instagram or any other social media platform, where I am in some deep distress requiring a transfer of money within the next few hours or offering you a fabulous amount of money or cryptoassets or stocks or elixir of life, please ignore it. I would be grateful, though, if you could warn me that such attempt has been made, by e-mail, postcard, or pigeon.