Technology

Those Buying Fake Followers On Instagram Won’t Like This

Instagram Removing Fake Followers
Image Source: Instagram Info Center (screenshot)

It’s no secret that a lot of the so-called social media influencers buy followers, likes, and comments on Instagram. Having tons followers – even though most of them might be fake or bots – makes them look good in the eyes of brands looking to collaborate with influencers to promote their products. Now people buying fake followers, likes, and comments are going to have some tough time.

AI to detect accounts buying fake followers, likes

Instagram announced in a blog post that it is going to take “a number of steps to limit this kind of unwelcome behavior.” People come to the platform to have “real experiences” and “genuine interactions.” The company has started removing inauthentic likes, follows, and comments from “accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity.”

The company has built machine learning tools that can identify accounts using third-party services to gain fake followers, likes, and comments, and remove the inauthentic activity. Instagram noted that this behavior is “bad for the community” and third-party services selling fake likes, comments, and follows violate its Terms of Use and Community Guidelines.

The Facebook-owned platform will notify accounts via in-app messages when it deletes inauthentic content or activity. The app has also advised users that might have unintentionally started using such third-party services to change their passwords to revoke further access. So, if you see your own or another account’s follower count drop significantly over the next few weeks, it’s likely because most of their followers were fake.

The company has promised to provide more updates on additional measures it would take in the coming weeks to curb inauthentic activity on the platform.

When you contact a third-party service to buy fake followers, likes or comments, they require you to give them access to your username, password, and other sensitive information. The company has in the past tried to curb inauthentic activity by introducing the “About This Account” feature which allowed users to evaluate the authenticity of other accounts.

It has also shut down popular third-party bot apps such as Instagress and Social Growth. But there are still many active audience-boosting service providers such as Boostio, InstarocketProX, and Archie. According to the New York Times, many popular celebrities have also used the services of bot apps to buy fake followers, likes, and comments on their profiles. These apps charge between $10 and $100 per month depending on the amount of activity you want.

Though the photo-sharing app seems determined to curb inauthentic activity on its platform, there is little clarity on how it would handle the ads for bot apps and services that sell inauthentic content and activities. Yes, many of those third-party apps advertise their services right on Instagram. An Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch that such ads do “violate our policies” because the ads are also subject to its Community Standards.

Social media apps trying to curb fake accounts, activities

Social platforms have been trying to crack down on fake accounts and inauthentic activities for quite a while. Facebook has launched several initiatives including a misinformation “war room” to prevent the spread of fake news. It has also taken down profiles and pages (mainly from Iran and Russia) from Facebook as well as Instagram that spread fake political news.

Social media services have come under pressure following reports that Russians might have used fake accounts to spread the fake news to influence the US Presidential elections. Facebook claims to have removed 754 million fake accounts in the last quarter alone. Instagram has also been removing fake accounts since at least four years.

Recently, Instagram began using artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent cyberbullying on its platform. The AI algorithms will detect cyberbullying in photos and their captions posted on the platform and send them to the Community Operations team for review. Users can also report bullying. The company said the cyberbullying comment filters will also appear on the Live Videos feature. The tool will automatically hide inappropriate comments.