Instagram Is Cracking Down on Fake Engagement

by Charles Manning

On Monday, Instagram announced that they will be cracking down on accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity through manufactured likes, comments, and follows. “We’ve built machine learning tools to help identify accounts that use these services and remove the inauthentic activity,” said Instagram in a statement. “This type of behavior is bad for the community, and third-party apps that generate inauthentic likes, follows, and comments violate our Community Guidelines and Terms of Use.”

Even if you’ve never noticed this kind of activity on your own account, you’ve probably seen it on accounts you follow, especially in the comments section. Third-party apps like the ones Instagram is referring to are notorious for leaving comments that consist solely of a single emoji or a single positive word. Not that real people don’t also leave these kinds of comments, but have you ever noticed how some accounts seem to leave the same insipid comment on every post? That’s likely a third-party app. Similarly, have you ever noticed random people following your account and then unfollowing you a few days later? Third-parties like this follow accounts on behalf of one user hoping for a reciprocal follow, and then unfollow that person a few days later. Happens all the time. It’s not a huge deal, but it does undermine the act of following and engaging with other accounts in an authentic way. It’s sort of like getting catfished and no one likes that.

“Accounts we identify using these services will receive an in-app message alerting them that we have removed the inauthentic likes, follows and comments given by their account to others,” said Instagram. “If you receive an in-app message, simply change your password to revoke their access to your account. These new measures will be ongoing, and accounts that continue to use third-party apps to grow their audience may see their Instagram experience impacted.”

Instagram also warned that additional measures to tackle inauthentic activity will be rolling out in the weeks to come, so if you’ve been shady — buying your followers and faking your engagement — watch out, cuz Instagram’s onto you and they’re comin’ for ya!

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