Profiles such as the one below (with 110k followers at time of writing) are receiving a fair amount of traction with between 5,000-8,000 likes per image (I got 6 for a picture of a cat once), stating:
If your account doesn't have a picture of an arrow next to it then it's in the process of being deleted. To get your arrow, please follow the instructions below 1) Follow @verifyingarrows 2) Repost our photo 3) Tag @verifyingarrows 4) Hashtag #verifyingarrows
Here’s a similar profile – now deleted – which managed to grab 245k followers before being banned itself:
The “arrow” in question appears to be nothing more than a drop down box on profiles which suggests accounts similar to the one you’re looking at. It has nothing to do with profile verification or dodging deletion waves.
Regardless, panicked Instagram users appear to be jumping on the ban(d)wagon and doing what they can to fend off a profile extinction event that is never going to arrive.
In terms of what the ultimate end game is with all of this, it’s a case of wait and see for the time being.
This is either just a hoax for the sake of it, or maybe the accounts asking people to bolster their visibility on Instagram will suddenly start selling something come the New Year.
Whatever they’re up to, you can safely ignore these profiles and carry on taking selfies and pictures of sandwiches, with or without a filter.