How the Instagram ‘Name Change Prank’ Exposed Racist and Homophobic Users
Instagram is the birthplace of many online challenges and pranks. We have seen make-up challenges, cooking challenges, and dancing challenges. The most recent one, however, tops all of the above! The ‘Instagram name change prank’ resulted in thousands of users being stuck with a ridiculous, often very obscene, Instagram name.
In 2019, Instagram altered its policy on changing your profile name. A user can now only change his or her name twice in 14 days. The third time you try to do this, you will receive a message denying your request.
There are several ways people are tricked into changing their names. One is through a viral TikTok that suggests there is a bug in the Instagram app. Allegedly, this bug allows you to change another person’s profile name, by changing your own. There are also users who directly contacted their friends asking to change their name twice. Either to film a funny video or be part of a challenge.
As many users were unaware of this prank, thousands of people are now called their favorite dish or pet animal. However, this prank quickly took a dark turn when people changed their names to inappropriate – often racist, homophobic, or anti-semitic – names.
The TikTok video shows that if you would first change your name to your friend’s handle, and then change it to what you would like their profile name to be, that their name would then be successfully changed. Obviously this is impossible, and thus many people accidentally exposed their racist selves by typing in repulsive profile names.
I can’t say that I am surprised at the choice of names people opted for, as covert racism is something very common among a lot of people. The fact that so many white people felt compelled to use the n-word shows that this challenge served as a way for people to say something they could never say in daily life.
But what I am surprised about is the level of stupidity of these people. Certainly, you can’t change someone else’s Instagram name, and even if you could, why would you want them to be called these hateful words? The only thing this whole Instagram name change prank succeeded in, is exposing what some of these people really are: racist douchebags.
Considering that public Instagram accounts are open to anyone, and for private accounts the profile picture, name, and bio are visible, I will post some of these most obscene, racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic Instagram names here. Of course, these screen captures are only included for editorial purposes.