An attendee takes a photo of the instagram logo during a press event at Facebook headquarters on June 20, 2013 in Menlo Park, California / Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Deactivation can be an important way to stay safe, as well as a first step to leaving the service

A bug in Instagram is stopping people leaving it.

People who attempt to deactivate their account are instead finding that they have to stay on it – apparently because the app is broken.

As with its owner Facebook, Instagram offers its users the ability to deactivate but not entirely delete their account. Deactivation is temporary, allowing people to choose to come back at a future date, at which point they'll find their pictures and followers are still in place.

It's often used as a way of stepping away from social media, either in the aftermath of abuse or if someone wants to take a break. It can also be an important first step to deleting an account, with people often choosing to try it out by deactivating first – and being encouraged to by the social networks.

Usually, the option can be activated by heading to Instagram's "Editor Profile" section through the app. But clicking through on the option to deactivate an account on there just sends users back to their news feed – and the account stays open.

Users who have tried to complain about the problem have received little response from Instagram, according to Techcrunch, which first reported the bug. Since the problems were reported, the website to deactivate appears to have gone offline – but that may have been related to worldwide problems with the service, it reported.

It is, it seems, still possible to completely remove an Instagram account. But that is a permanent decision and so leads to a loss of a users' entire feed, whereas deactivation can be useful in a range of circumstances where temporarily hiding a profile is useful.

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