Andrés Iniesta the soccer player, via Shutterstock
Andrés Iniesta is a designer who describes himself as "a father who likes to take pictures of his kids, yummy food and interesting buildings in Madrid." He likes to post those photos to Instagram, but last week when he was on holiday, he suddenly found himself unable to access his account.
As he describes in a post on Medium titled "How Instagram closed my account and gave it to a football celebrity," after a few days of not being able to access his Instagram account, he tried contacting the company via Twitter and got no response. Then friends of the designer told him that they were suddenly getting updates from a much different Andrés Iniesta on Instagram.
The other Andrés Iniesta is a soccer star who plays for FC Barcelona and is on Spain's national team. Andrés Iniesta the designer was told by his Instagram friends that the soccer player was the Andrés that was now appearing on their accounts. Andrés the designer attempted to resolve the issue again through Instagram's Facebook contact form, but to no avail. So he wrote the Medium post, and garnered enough attention from it to get things moving, later updating his article to note that the problem was resolved a mere five hours after he published his post explaining what was happening.
He also noted that the soccer player's people reached out to him to let him know they didn't have anything to do with the foofaraw. (And Andrés Iniesta the soccer player is doing alright, he's Instagramming at @andresiniesta8 and has 5.4 million followers.) Instagram, as reported by by Gizmodo, stated that "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," which, as Business Insider noted, is nice, but doesn't actually explain why such a thing happened.
I'm apt to believe Instagram and leave it at that. The titles for these articles, in their own click-bait-y way, offer up a more sinister take on the question of why it happened, with the implicit assumption in a title like "Instagram Hijacked An Account to Give It to Soccer Star", that Instagram twirled its mustache as it stole one account just to give it to a more famous person. But, ostensibly, this doesn't seem to be corruption or malice, more like a plain old screw-up. (Or maybe an admin at the company is just a huge Barcelona supporter?)
However minor this conflict between Andrés Iniesta the designer and Instragram was, online identity remains an interesting, implication-filled topic. While many people go online to escape from their actual selves, sometimes just holding on to your own name can be a battle. The idea of a right to your own identity online is one that is slowly being developed as we move further and further into the digital age. And the question of what right thing to do is when someone shares an exact name with someone else will have to be addressed, even if it means just adding a couple numbers to the end of your username.