If you disable and re-enable your Instagram, it will set off the notification apocalypse

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Returning from a digital sabbatical during which you disabled your Instagram account? Get ready for a blast from the notifications past, courtesy of a tagging glitch.

I recently temporarily disabled my Instagram account for the first time, and when I re-enabled my account – something weird happened. Instagram re-tagged everyone I had ever tagged in a photo. Yep, notifications and all.

I didn’t realize it at first. Upon re-enabling my account, my phone was instantly filled with interactions on old photos: A friend commented on a photo more from more than 3 years ago. Friends liked photos they have been in from years ago. Another friend who I haven’t tagged in photos in at least 2 years sent me this text:

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And then, from close friends who had been in many of my Instagram photos, I got screenshots like this asking for an explanation:

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I’ve been posting on Instagram since July 2013, and since then I have posted 400+ photos. At a glance, at least half of them include other people who are tagged. That’s about 200 notifications – at least. I looked around a bit to confirm, and it’s definitely not just me.  Users have been tweeting about the issue since January of last year. An Instagram spokesperson has confirmed the issue and said they’d provide more information.

Some friends texted me or commented about old photos they had forgotten about, or completely missed when I first tagged them. One old friend who I haven’t talked to in years commented “this is so nostalgic for me!”

But like a lot of social networks, Instagram is of the moment. While we may filter our photos and perfect our captions, Instagram also captures the history of our relationships. Completely unintentionally, I had notified people I completely forgot I had ever tagged on Instagram. I even took to Instagram stories to offer an explanation and express my frustration:

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A quick poll around the Mashable office showed an immediate concern for this. Old photos with significant others were the top concern. Relationships that end on bad terms are often still lurking around, tags and all. Blasting all of your formerly tagged contacts with notifications can not only be annoying, it can be damaging to you.

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And that’s exactly the worst part of this all – it could make the user look bad and they may not even know it. There’s nothing you can do about it. Most people who knew about this also learned it the hard way. While this may just be an unintended consequence of the tagging feature and affect a small subset of the company’s massive user base, for those users, it can be a big deal.

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