Archive for October 6, 2020

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Stolen Instagram Account

Danny Hall (Hacker News):

TLDR: some rich kid in LA now has my Instagram account because he got his friend who works at Facebook to steal it... and nobody at Facebook or Instagram is doing anything about it

I’ve had the Instagram account @danny since it launched (10 years ago!). I guess its a pretty sought after @.


So it seems that employees with the right access at Facebook can just give your account to someone else. What’s happened to all my data? Photos, messages... 10 years of it. Does this guy in LA now have it? Has it been deleted? Will I ever get it back?

As there’s no other way to contact Facebook I’ve submitted it as a security bug in their bug bounty program but I doubt I’ll get anything other than an automated response.


An interesting aspect to this story is that although there’s no real evidence that a Facebook employee was involved, it still seems like a believable explanation to many readers including many commenters here. If a company’s customer support is so bad that no one can tell the difference between being hacked and being abused by a rogue employee, does it actually matter what happened? I guess that it matters to the original poster, and I do hope that they do get their photos / account back, but in either case the message the message I’m taking away from the story same: your Facebook account could disappear tomorrow and you’d have no recourse.

After the story gained traction, he got his account back, but without any explanation. It reminds me of this story (Hacker News) of a woman losing her Kindle books:

Those friendly phone-based customer support folks couldn’t access Nygaard’s account either, and she was passed on to “account specialists” who only communicated via email. That’s when things took a Kafkaesque turn (as documented by her friend, Martin Bekkelund, on his blog). A man named Michael Murphy with Amazon UK’s “Executive Customer Relations” told Nygaard her account had been determined to be “directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies.” Which policies? He wouldn’t say. What other account? Murphy wouldn’t share that, either.

Instead, Murphy would only pass on this shrilly authoritarian boilerplate:

Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action.

And, of course, the stories about Apple developer accounts. The official channels just don’t seem to work.

Tom Bridge:

Does anyone know anyone at PayPal? They’ve decided to permanently limit my account.


Update (2020-10-16): Miguelyto:

Google disabled my husband’s account and it is giving us no reason for it. Yet it asks for an appeal in a form as the only way to restore it. Appealing a decision without knowing what you’re appealing is a recipe for success.

Update (2020-10-22): Cleroth:

After over 15 years of using #google, my account has been permanently disabled without any reason given. All my emails, contacts, photos, docs, accounts connecting with google, etc.... Everything is gone. Without warning or chance of recovery. I’m at a complete loss...

Update (2020-11-07): Chris Stokel-Walker (via David Heinemeier Hansson):

Cleroth is one of a number of people who have seen their accounts suspended in the last few days and weeks. In response to a tweet explaining his fear at being locked out of his Google account after 15 years of use, others have posted about the impact of being barred from the company that runs most of the services we use in our day-to-day lives.

Update (2021-01-06): Gilbert Tang:

I recently bought 4 SSDs from Amazon. When the package arrived, 3 were missing. I contacted Amazon and they said I needed to call UPS. UPS said the opposite. After tons dealing with CS to no avail, I finally canceled the $1200+ on my card. Then Amazon locked 20+ year old account.

The result of this is now I’m locked out of 320+ audiobooks, 300+ Kindle books, and all the AutoRip music from vinyl record purchases. Speaking of records, on well over a dozen occasions I received them just floating in a big box. They were almost always damaged and sent back.

Update (2021-01-12): Ron Paul (via Hacker News):

With no explanation other than “repeatedly going against our community standards,” @Facebook has blocked me from managing my page. Never have we received notice of violating community standards in the past and nowhere is the offending post identified.

The only thing we posted to Facebook today was my weekly “Texas Straight Talk” column, which I have published every week since 1976.

In Defense of XML

Nicolas Fränkel (via John D. Cook, Hacker News):

Ever since then, it would be an euphemism to say XML has been losing in popularity. Other formats, such as JSON and YAML, have replaced it in the hearts of developers. In this post, I’d like to:

  • Explore some of the reasons why the mighty XML has fallen
  • Raise some downsides of the popular alternatives
  • And describe how XML already solved those problems

Disk Utility’s First Aid in Catalina

Howard Oakley:

The description of Disk Utility’s First Aid command therefore appears incorrect. How this currently works is that performing First Aid depends on the item which is selected. If that’s a disk, then First Aid checks and repairs at that level, including the disk’s partition map and EFI partition, not its volumes. To perform full checks on an APFS volume, you should select that volume (not its disk or container) before clicking on the First Aid tool. To check and repair all volumes in a container, you must first eject each of its volumes, then select the container and click on the First Aid tool. Or run First Aid on them individually.

This all makes sense, apart from Disk Utility’s apparent inability to unmount volumes in order to check a container, but isn’t what the user is told in the app’s Help book.

Too bad you can’t tell it to check everything all at once, or do multiple operations in separate windows, as was possible in macOS 10.10 and earlier.


Update on Agenda’s Sales Model

Drew McCormack (tweet):

Unlike a freemium model, this is not an ála carte selection of features — it is all you can eat. When you purchase to move your unlock date forward, all features on or before that date get unlocked, forever. Customers appreciate this, because they keep what they have already paid for; and we like it, because we don’t have to support customers stuck on an old version who don’t want to pay to upgrade. And, as developers, we get to have our app in the App Stores, generating recurring income, without the negativity that often accompanies subscriptions.


It should go without saying that we are happy. We haven’t considered abandoning the Cash Cow sales model. It’s bringing in the bucks, and we receive virtually no negative feedback about it. In fact, it’s mentioned in a significant number of App Store reviews as playing a factor in a customer’s decision to purchase.


In short, the Cash Cow model keeps people engaged and using the app even when they are out-of-license, which provides us an opportunity to win their hearts, and wallets, with new feature releases. It’s a powerful aspect of the model — the app itself is your best marketing.


MotionX-GPS to AllTrails

Earlier this year, Fullpower Technologies discontinued MotionX-GPS:

After years of offering a top-rated GPS app for the iPhone, we have made the difficult decision to remove MotionX-GPS from the iTunes App Store. We realize MotionX-GPS has a large following and those who already own MotionX-GPS will be able to continue using it. If you purchase a new iPhone in the future, you will still be able to download MotionX-GPS as long as you are signed into the App Store using the same Apple ID credentials you used when it was originally purchased.

In addition, there are some features that will no longer be supported in the app due to the infrastructure costs associated with ongoing hosting. These include:

  • Sharing waypoints or tracks with others
  • Auto Live Position Updates
  • Wikipedia Search
  • MotionX Road and MotionX Terrain map types (Apple, Google, Bing and NOAA maps will continue to be available).

Our team’s focus has shifted to the science of non-invasive contactless bio-sensing which is helping customers worldwide in improving their sleep through sleep analysis with actionable insights.

I had been using it since the early days of iOS, but with few updates and no support for newer screen sizes, the writing had been on the wall for a while. It’s a shame that they weren’t able to sustain development of what had been a very popular app. I don’t recall there being any paid upgrades.

The good news is that the app I’ve replaced it with, AllTrails, works pretty well. It has far fewer features but a more streamlined interface for the most important ones. It’s never given me any battery life trouble. Some features, like exporting, only work from the Web site. And the app itself has some bugs like sometimes redownloading the same map data you’d just viewed. The social network aspect is hit-or-miss. It’s missing tons of trails in my area, and trails that I’m familiar with often have inaccurate distances or descriptions. However, it has helped me discover some new trails that weren’t documented elsewhere, and the maps themselves are good. Hopefully, the freemium business model ($2.50/month or $29.99/year to pre-download maps, print, etc.) will keep it available.


Update (2020-11-07): While I was frustrated with AllTrails forgetting its maps, I gave Gaia GPS a try. This is also a good app, and it has much more extensive labelling of trails in my area, though its actual list of trails is much shorter. Better maps are more important to me than better lists, so I’m using it for now.

I also eventually learned from AllTrails support that the reason the app was forgetting maps it had just downloaded was that my Pro subscription had lapsed. That was intentional, since I had found that I wasn’t using any of the Pro features. However, it turns out that I had misunderstood what Pro includes. AllTrails markets Pro as providing offline maps, which I interpreted to mean that you can download maps at home and then go out into an area with no cell service to use them (or, to an area with service but without needing to use your data). It does let you do that. But additionally, without Pro, the app doesn’t save the map to storage at all. Simply switching to the Camera app and back to AllTrails is supposed to discard the map and make you download it again if you haven’t subscribed.