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Instagram Is Purging Fake Followers Obtained Through Third-Party Apps

Instagram launched a new crackdown on users who inflate their follower counts and engagement metrics using unauthorized third-party apps.

On Monday (Nov. 19), the photo- and video-sharing app said it will begin purging fake followers, as well as likes and comments, from user accounts that Instagram has found to have employed third-party apps that violate its policies.

“Starting today, we will begin removing inauthentic likes, follows and comments from accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity,” Instagram said 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.”

Instagram didn’t identify third-party apps it’s targeting in the new crackdown. Dozens of companies openly advertise apps and services promising to let Instagram users quickly boost followers and likes, including Skweezer, Incentafan, Mr. Insta, Boostgram, and Turbo Like for Instagram.

Some users try to game Instagram’s algorithms with such tactics, in the hopes that it will result in their content being more widely viewed on the platform.

Instagram’s new crackdown is launching amid a crisis at parent company Facebook, which is fighting to restore its credibility after a New York Times report last week revealed Facebook’s surreptitious attacks on critics and alleged that senior execs ignored and failed to disclose evidence of misuse on its platform.

According to Instagram, the company has built machine-learning tools to help identify accounts that have generated bogus followers and activity. Accounts that Instagram has flagged as using these services will receive an in-app message alerting them that Instagram has removed fake likes, follows and comments. In addition, users will be asked to change their password.

Instagram shared an example of the message a user who has used third-party apps to boost their followings will receive:

Instagram added that “some people may have unknowingly shared their login credentials with a third-party app,” but warned that accounts that continue to use third-party apps to try to inflate their audiences “may see their Instagram experience impacted.”

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