Down with the bots! Instagram removes fake engagement

By December 13, 2018Instagram

Using tools to manipulate a successful presence on Instagram is something that has been happening for quite some time. While major social platforms repeatedly cull fake or inactive accounts, they rarely comment or act on the repeated activity of buying engagement or using third-party tools to manipulate a following and an amplified presence.

That is, until now. Instagram has recently announced that it will be actively working to remove ‘inauthentic’ engagement within the platform. This is a significant announcement from the platform that will even pay users the courtesy of warning them before any of their own inauthentic activity is removed.

As Instagram’s popularity continues to grow, so does this inauthentic activity and it’s something that’s become more than just getting follower numbers up. While there may be more to life than how many likes your Instagram photo is getting, for some, life in the platform has become a livelihood that’s slipping from their grip as inauthentic growth continues to, well, grow.

It’s become a frustration felt across the world of social media influencers, from brands to self-made social media stars struggling in finding the organic secret of how to grow on Instagram. Influencers who have organically built a following and a strong presence are competing with influencers who have bought and manipulated their growth, both reaping the same benefits. Likewise, brands who spend time curating their feed and struggling to build their audience are competing with accounts that have an overnight boost of followers and engagement, without doing much to earn it.

With the vast amount of inauthentic activity that is rumoured to go on within Instagram, it’s unclear what effect this will have on accounts that have previously used or continue to use fake growth tactics. While some tactics are easy to spot; a sudden boost in hundreds of followers, an account with 10s of followers but thousands of likes, some work the system well enough that their growth can seem natural and even deserved.

With this new implementation, users that have previously used third party apps to boost their own presence within Instagram – whether through buying or manipulating follower growth or buying likes and comments – will be greeted with a message in-platform, notifying them that any inauthentic activity will be removed from the platform.

For any users that have used third party tools in the past, this message shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, for some, login information may have been shared with third party sites that have since acted on their behalf. With multiple apps connected to Instagram, a user gives up a plethora of rights to their activity and content with just a checkbox to sign them up acting as a buffer.

As with all Instagram updates, initial details are still somewhat brief, but for a company that prides itself on providing enjoyment to its users, this could massively change the use and perception of the app. Speculation is rife as to what this will mean for users that have used these tools. Depending on the techniques in play, this could mean a significant loss in following for individuals or, it may mean their own activity (such as comments and likes set-up through a bot) will start disappearing from other profiles.

As fake activity and fake followers begin to be culled with more significance from this social media giant, expect to see a fluctuation in numbers and (fingers crossed) some more authentic engagement flooding across the app as people turn to manual techniques to help organically boost their presence.

If you’re looking for help with your own brand strategy on Instagram, get in touch! Or take a look at some of our previous work to help inspire you.