Instagram is currently testing a new feature that automatically locks username for 14 days after the user switches to a new handle. This feature was spotted by a mobile researcher named Jane Manchun Wong in an Alpha version of the Instagram Android app.
What is it?
Wong tweeted that this feature will put an end to hackers who use bots to grab usernames as soon as the users switch to a new handle.
“Instagram will start locking old usernames for 14 days after changing so the previous owner can revert to it within the grace period. This is the end of username grabber bots,” Wong tweeted.
The big picture
This feature which is currently tested by Instagram was discovered by Wong in the 18.104.22.168.24 Alpha version of the Instagram Android app, within the strings.xml, which is used for storing all the string resources that are required to easily translate Android apps.
Wong said in a Twitter post that this feature has already saddened some of the username squatters and they are messaging her directly in Twitter.
“Instagram should roll out this feature as soon as possible. Stop the squatters from ruining Instagram. This squatter sent me a DM seemingly upset over it. Looks like Instagram has hit where it hurts. And it's good,” Wong Tweeted.
Few squatters even sent her death threats for creating the feature. However, Wong clarified that she didn't develop this feature and that she only discovered it by reverse engineering the app. “Hey claimers, I didn't create this feature. I only found it by reverse engineering the app. Please stop sending me death threats. I'm just passing along what I found. Don't murder me or my family please,” she tweeted.
The bottom line - This feature will only auto-lock usernames for 14 days, however, in order to prevent hackers from compromising your Instagram account, it is recommended to implement two-factor authentication apps or physical security keys.