Here’s a question with a seemingly obvious answer. You get an alert from the app of a social network you frequent and enjoy. Your account is locked, and they would like to fix that. All you need to do is…upload a photo of a government ID to verify you are who you say you are, from your account with that network on a desktop.
Do you think this is legit? Or do you think it’s a scam?
It’s likely this immediately set off every scam buzzer the Internet has pounded into you. But apparently, this is really what Instagram wants thousands of users to do — and it’s sending them to Yahoo! Answers, of all places, in the hopes of finding clarity amidst their confusion.
You’d think an Internet user savvy enough to realize that perhaps uploading a photo of a government-issued ID is not the brightest thing in the world to do would also be savvy enough to realize Yahoo! Answers is a infamous troll breeding ground, but apparently not.
Why, precisely, is this happening? CNET may have an insight or two:
One person reached out to me Saturday morning after his 12-year-old son was locked out of his account. The son, the contact said, was in tears over losing access to Instagram. The father’s experience echoes those of forum participants, many of whom noted that their children were being asked to upload photo IDs to verify their birthdates.
It seems likely that Instagram is initiating a wider crackdown on children using social networks. Essentially, U.S. law makes it much cheaper and easier to boot everybody below the age of thirteen off the network than it is to actually verify those accounts.
So the ID makes sense, but we’ve really got to ask: Nobody took a look at this whole “driver’s license” thing and said “Hey, guys, maybe our users might just be a bit uncomfortable sending us that information?” Especially since users can just start a new account?