On Tuesday, Instagram announced several changes intended to improve security for its 1 billion users. Among the changes is the ability to use third party authenticator apps to log in to Instagram, including DUO Mobile and Google Authenticator.
Instagram did not previously support this capability, although it did allow for 2-factor authentication (2FA) with text messages.
The change comes in the wake of a host of account attacks, as Mashable previously reported. Without notice or explanation, hundreds of people and Instagram-dependent business have been getting locked out of their accounts, even affecting some accounts with 2FA enabled. The hacks have raised questions about Instagram’s fundamental security, and its ability to adequately respond to security complaints. The inability to use a third party authenticator app may have been part of the problem, and in response earlier this month, Instagram promised to make this change.
Another safety feature Instagram announced Tuesday is the ability see more information about accounts that “reach large audiences.” By clicking in the three dots in the upper right corner of Instagram, users can click “About This Account” to see a bunch of new information: the date the account joined, the country (hi Russia!), what ads the account is running, former usernames, and accounts with shared followers (or, “the public accounts that have the most followers in common”).
And at long last, Instagram released the ability to request a verification badge — or, better known as that coveted blue checkmark. Previously, there was no official process for getting a badge, which led to a thriving black market for Instagram verification. Now, in account options, all users will be able to “Request Verification,” which requires submitting a photo ID.
Not just any Joe ThirstTrap will be able to get a badge, though — it’s still reserved for a “notable public figure, celebrity, global brand or entity it represents.” Accounts that request the verification will get a notification confirming or denying the request once it’s been reviewed.
Instagram tested the request form in Australia in July, but it is now rolling out worldwide.
Instagram parent company Facebook enabled support for 2FA apps in May. So while the timing of the new capability on Instagram comes on the heels of the security breaches users have been experiencing, given the pressure Facebook has been under to lock down its platform from foreign political influence, all three changes are clearly part of a larger effort by Facebook to beef up security and transparency as a whole.
For Instagram, it’s not a bad start. Now if only customer service would get back to those locked out users…