Instagram said it will step up enforcement against such bogus activity, removing inauthentic likes, follows and comments from accounts that use third-party apps.
Earlier this year, the New York Times revealed how companies like Devumi sell social media followers — in particular, Twitter followers — to television stars, professional athletes, comedians and others who want to appear more impressive. Drawing from millions of automated accounts, the company provided its customers with more than 200 million bogus Twitter followers, the Times investigation revealed.
Twitter responded this summer by wiping out tens of millions of suspicious and fake accounts.
Instagram is tackling the same sort of problem on its platform, writing in a blog post that it’s taking steps to limit this kind of unwelcome behavior. The social media platform has built machine learning tools to help identify accounts that use these services and remove the inauthentic activity.
Accounts it tags as using these services will receive an in-app message alerting them that Instagram has removed the fake likes, follows and comments given their accounts gave to others. It also will ask users to secure their accounts by changing their passwords.
People who use these types of apps tend to share their usernames and passwords. This allows accounts to be used by third-party apps to generate phony interactions. Not only does this introduce bad behavior, Instagram said, it also makes these accounts less secure.
Instagram says it has always a gimlet eye to this kind of fakery, auto-detecting and removing fake accounts from its earliest days. Today’s update is another step in this process.
A spokesperson declined to say how widespread this problem might be, or quantify it with specific numbers. However, Instagram hopes to provide an update in the coming months about its progress in this area.