Why Does it Say Username Not Available on Instagram [But It Doesn't Exist]

Discover how the username trade led to an Instagram policy wherein 'banned' usernames cannot be claimed.
Date Published
September 15, 2023

There is an Instagram username you'd like but when you go to register it - it says that this username is not available.

But then - when you look for this username on Instagram it doesn't show up. So, no one else has it ... but, you can't have it either?

So, what exactly is going on? 

Instagram Username Taken, But It Does Not Exist? What's Going On?

If you're unable to register a username and getting the 'username not available' notification, there can be a few reasons for that.

First - it's possible that the username you'd like is taken, but the owner has decided to deactivate it. This means, they have access to this username but - they have deactivated it as a result of which, the username doesn't pop-up within Instagram's search.

Second - it's possible that the username you'd like is banned. Meaning, someone had this username at one point and they did something that resulted in their account getting banned.

Can You Take a Username of a Banned Instagram Account?

So - let's assume that the username you'd like is banned. Meaning, it doesn't show up in the search results of Instagram and no one has access to it either.

Is there anyway you can get that username? 

Well ... no.

Banned usernames cannot be claimed. Not even Handle Harmony can get such usernames.

But Daisy ... you guys can claim usernames that are inactive and dormant, what if the banned username has been banned for years and years? Wouldn't it qualify as 'inactive and dormant'? 

Well ... technically yes ... it would qualify as inactive if it has been banned for over a year.

However ... the Instagram team doesn't like giving up banned handles. And the reason for this is quite interesting.

Why You Cannot Claim Banned Usernames

You see ... when a social network gets as large as Instagram, there's bound to be a lot of users that are bad actors.

Now, a while ago (back in 2017) something started happening. Bad actors would create mass reporting bots and ban accounts just to free up the username for themselves.

Wait ... what's a mass reporting bot? Well ... you probably know about 'fake' followers. You can ... with a click of a button and a few hundred dollars ... buy millions of fake followers for any social profile.

With that in mind, lots of bad players came up with a tool where they'd utilize a network of Instagram bots (that they created and controlled) ... and use all these accounts at once to 'report' a target profile.

These mass reporting tools would have a farm of anywhere from a thousand to tens of thousands of Instagram accounts, all of which could be used to mass report any target profile into oblivion.

And as you can guess ... this got out of hand real quick.

People would mass report profiles that have super-cool usernames, and then, once the target account is banned, they'd snatch up the username.

And this led to Instagram coming up with a rule wherein once a username is banned ... that particular 'username' can no longer be registered, not even via a media partner relation (like Handle Harmony).

Wrapping Up

So, now you know why certain usernames cannot be registered, even though it seems like no one else has it.

On a brighter note, if you have a username that is taken and not-banned but inactive - give us a call, and we'll get it for you!

Meet the Author
Handle Harmony Blog Author - Daisy Mendoza
Daisy Mendoza
Daisy Mendoza is the queen of Instagram storytelling, turning mere posts into visual feasts for millions worldwide. With a decade of blog wizardry up her sleeve, she's your go-to guru for crafting narratives that not only resonate but delight and inspire.
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