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Instagram showing a "challenge required" error? Here's how to fix it

Meta is fighting a never-ending war against bot farms.
November 3, 2023

Let’s face it — app and service developers are often needlessly cryptic when it comes to error messages. While those messages might make sense in a development context, the rest of us don’t have that frame of reference, and we’re often left to Google what something means — in fact, that’s probably how you got here. So what does a “challenge required” error mean on Instagram, and what can you do to solve one?


A "challenge required" error happens when something in Instagram's systems suspects you're a bot. If you're not prompted to verify your identity, it may be worth doublechecking your internet connection, switching to a different device, or restarting the app.


What does “challenge required” mean on Instagram?

Instagram stock image 12
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

In effect, it means that Instagram wants you to prove that you’re not a bot. As you know, bots are a plague on many social media networks — they’re used to make a specific user seem more popular than they really are, or to lure people into scams and phishing attacks. One way to defeat bots, of course, is to challenge them to respond in a way that only a human could deal with.

The error can be triggered accidentally, however. Perhaps you’re simply trying to log into Instagram with a new device, or something’s playing havoc with your internet connection. It’s also possible that Instagram’s servers are running into glitches, in which case you might just have to be patient.

How to fix the challenge required error on Instagram

There are several possible ways to deal with the situation, but what’ll work depends on what’s actually causing it. If you run through the troubleshooting tactics below, one of them should eventually succeed.

  1. Make sure you’ve got reliable internet access. As we mentioned, the error can be caused by a weak Wi-Fi or cellular connection, in which case you might have better luck if you can find a place (or network) with a stronger signal. We’re listing this first because it’s important to rule out.
  2. If prompted, verify your identity. When Instagram’s working as intended, a “challenge required” error should be accompanied by instructions, such as verifying with two-factor authentication (2FA) if you have that enabled.
  3. Switch to a more frequently used device. This is related to the point above. If the device you’re logging in with is “new” as far as Instagram’s concerned, a more trusted device should be easier to verify.
  4. Restart the app. If you’re on Android or iOS, try force-quitting Instagram and relaunching it. This can potentially fix any stuck processes or temporary cache issues. If nothing else it’ll kill some time, which could help convince Instagram’s servers that you’re not a bot bombarding them with requests.
  5. Manually clear the cache. You can’t do this with iOS, but on Android devices, you can ensure your cache is purged by going to Settings > Apps > Instagram > Storage and cache.
  6. Check for app updates. It’s possible that some sort of software bug is making Instagram more prone to the error. Be sure you’ve updated to the latest version.
  7. Reinstall Instagram. This option is unlikely to do anything meaningful, but if all else has failed, it can’t hurt. You’ll just need to log back into the app once it’s re-downloaded.