Instagram is now fighting back against automated apps people use to leave spammy comments or gain followers in hopes of growing their audience. The social media app plans on removing from people’s accounts, who use these apps inauthentic follows, likes and comments that violate its policies; sending them a warning to change their password to cut ties with these apps, and saying people who continue using these apps “may see their Instagram experience impacted.” Instagram claims this “may limit access to certain features, for example” for those users.
Instagram is also hoping to discourage users from ever giving another company their login details to their accounts as this can lead to them being hacked or having their account used to send spam. So if you see Instagram follower accounts drop, it’s not because that profile offended people, but because the followers were fake.
The renewed vigor for policy enforcement comes amidst the continuing threat of foreign misinformation campaigns on Facebook and Instagram designed to polarize communities and influence elections in the U.S. and abroad. Facebook has said that inauthentic accounts are often the root of these campaigns, and it has removed 754 million fake accounts in the past quarter alone, and stopping these spam apps could prevent them from misusing clients’ accounts. Instagram has been taking down fake accounts since at least 2014, but this is the first time it’s publicly discussed removing fake likes from posts. It now says “We’ve built machine learning tools to help identify accounts that use [third-party apps for boosting followers] and remove the inauthentic activity.”
Some of the most popular bot apps for growing followers like Instagress and Social Growth have been shut down, but others like Archie, InstarocketProX andBoostio charge $10 to $45 per month. They often claim not to violate Instagram’s policies, though they do. The New York Times this year found many well-known celebrities had stooped to buying fake Twitter followers from a company called Devumi.
Users typically have to provide their username and password to these services, which then take control of their accounts and automatically like, comment on and follow accounts associated with desired hashtags to dupe them into following the unscrupulous user back. The spam app users will now get scolded by Instagram, which will send “an in-app message alerting them that we have removed the inauthentic likes, follows and comments given by their account to others” and be told to change their passwords.
This proves to be a major concern in many countries, as most accounts operate under fake followers and likes. The intention of this act by Instagram is to make the social media more realistic than fake and to ensure money earners on the app rightly earn and get credibility on a legal acquisition of followers.