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What Happened to MinnPost’s Instagram?

'It's just frustrating—why our account? We're a small, local nonprofit.'

Two weeks ago, MinnPost Audience Editor Jazzmine Jackson entered the newsroom, started running through her standard morning check-ins, and noticed an unusual email in the inbox linked to the site's Instagram. The account had been accessed by someone in Frederick, Maryland, and the email and password associated with the account had been changed.

Uh oh.

"I immediately went to the Instagram, and it was gone," Jackson tells Racket. "It happened so fast—it was like, 8:30 in the morning, I'm barely awake, and it was just gone."

It's not clear how the account was accessed, or even what the hacker hoped to achieve—someone messaged MinnPost's business team to demand money in exchange for the return of account... but then they deleted it anyway. "It was a weird thing where I was like, 'Did you not want the money?'" Jackson laughs. "It didn't seem like they knew what they wanted to do."

Maybe it was the culprit's first hacking for ransom. In any case, the account was totally nuked. Posts? Poof. Their 6,000-ish followers? Adios. And once an account is deleted by the person who owns it, that data is gone gone—Jackson reached out to Meta, and was told there's no way to recover those posts or followers.

Luckily, Instagram isn't the primary way the nonprofit newsroom reaches its readers. An attack on the website, or the disappearance of their newsletter contacts, would have been much worse.

But the social site has been a good place for MinnPost to reach people outside of their typical readership—a younger demographic that's more active, especially as Twitter decays—and Jackson had grown their follower count by around 3,000 people since starting at MinnPost about a year ago.

"It's just frustrating—why our account? We're a small, local nonprofit, we don't have that many followers on our Instagram, it was just very confusing," Jackson says.

In searching for silver linings, there's this at least: Jackson has been able to reclaim the @minnpost handle, though she had to wait two weeks to snag it back. And she's looking forward to getting a fresh start, using Instagram a little differently and more loosely than in the past. The phrase "news meme page" came up.

"I'm just gonna have a little more fun with it, have it be a little more of a relaxed account than our other channels," she says. "It all went away so fast—might as well have some fun."

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