How To Spot A Bot: Fake Instagram Profiles

fake Instagram profiles

Over the years, there have been several creative solutions for getting more likes and followers on Instagram. One of those tactics was the use of bots, which have been used to interact with other followers on your behalf to achieve more follows and likes from other users. More recently, the platform has been cracking down on security and its effort to get rid of bots, or fake Instagram profiles. For instance, as a penalty for engaging or using bots, users can receive what is known as a shadowban.

Detecting a Shadowban

Shadowbans are sometimes tricky to detect because you are not always alerted to the ban – your posts stop having the same amount of reach or interaction. If you find that your analytics for Instagram has suddenly dropped or flat-lined, then you might be shadowbanned. You might notice that your content isn’t getting nearly the amount of attention it used to, or that you can no longer comment or like other people’s posts.

Often people notice that they are not found in the hashtag search function, or are blocked from interacting with others. Content will be shown to your followers, but your reach will not go any further. Instagram does not shadowban people for no reason – they will penalize those who go against the guidelines of the Instagram community. It just takes figuring out why you were shadowbanned and making sure it doesn’t happen again.

One way to detect a shadowban is to use a secondary account (that isn’t following you) and try to find the first account. If you can’t be found in the explore or hashtag sections of the platform, you’re shadowbanned.

This can also happen to accounts that are linked, or managed, by another account. So for those of you who make a business out of social media marketing, shadowbans can affect you as well. While bots might have seemed like an innovative idea years ago, they can mean serious trouble for your business today.

Spotting Fake Instagram Profiles

There are many ways to tell if a profile is fake or spam. A lot of it will require investigative work and trusting your gut, but it is pretty easy to get a feel for finding fake Instagram profiles once you take a look. 

Profile Picture, Username, Bio

The picture and username associated with a profile can be quite telling. Often if the username is a string of jumbled letters and numbers, there is a good chance it is a bot. You might also notice the profile picture is missing, or shows up in a reverse image search, meaning it has been used many times on the internet. Most users have a picture of themselves, or at the very least unique content as their profile image. 

You can also get a feel for the profile based on the bio – does it seem like a real person wrote it? Does it contain zero personal information? If so, the profile might be fake. 

Following vs. Followers

Real influencers tend to have way more followers than people they follow, by a long shot! However, the purpose of bots is to follow other people. So, if you notice that a profile has way more people they follow compared to followers, this might be a great hint. You might also be able to take a look at their content: do they seem to have more followers than you would expect given the level of content they provide?

You might want to take a look at past interactions as well. Since these are bots and not humans, you might notice a profile leaving very generic comments or the same comment over and over. “Pretty pic” is a popular example. While a person might say this, they typically don’t leave the same comment on every picture. 

Content

Bots have some funny patterns with the content that they post. They might post a few things when the account is first created, and then never post anything else. This would also make it stand out if they had a lot of people they were following, with very little content on their profile. 

Another giveaway is if they post content, but it is only promotional posts where they want to sell you something. Often this includes giveaways or discounts on fake or suspicious-looking products. 

Profile Behavior

There are a few things a bot might do that sets it apart from regular users. They might follow a bunch of people and then unfollow someone once they have been followed back. If someone disconnects right after you follow them, they might be a bot.

If they go from not following anyone to following thousands of people overnight, it would be a reason for concern. Some of these behaviors are only noticeable while they are going on, but are a great metric to use if you are relatively active on your account. 

What To Do About Fake Profiles

When it comes to getting rid of these fake profiles, many turn to another third party service to weed out the spammers because they don’t have the time to do it themselves. However, you’re just throwing another non-human at the problem. A situation like this requires a human touch that can make judgment calls that an algorithm does not. Some users have not been on in a while or do not get online often, which is normal. 

At Spin A Web Designs, we are experienced in investigating profiles and determining if the profile is a bot or spam accounts. We remove them from your account and take the time to ensure your users are real. 

Published by Bridget Driscoll