Have you ever stumbled upon an Instagram account and asked yourself how it was possible to get that many followers? No need to rack your brain, because the answer just might have to do with fake accounts. And while a few bot accounts may not seem like a big deal to the average user, they're more prevalent than you might realize. So, how can you tell if an Instagram account is fake? You'd be surprised at what you can use to spot the phonies.
There are plenty of different reasons why someone might make a fake Instagram account. Some people make accounts to impersonate or catfish others. On the flip side, some fake accounts are made in large quantities so that people can actually buy and sell them to make it look like they have more followers. Other accounts are made to trick users into paying for fake products or services, according to Mashable.
"No matter what your posting or engagement strategy is, bots and fake accounts still manage to sneak in and plague your follower list," Susan B. Zimmerman, a business coach who helps clients with Instagram marketing, tells Bustle. "Having too many of these accounts following you can bring down your overall engagement rate." Jihana Barrett, cybersecurity expert, and owner of CybrSuite, agrees: “Fake accounts can actually get your page shut down. If enough of them follow you at one time, Instagram can assume that you have attempted to buy followers which is a huge no no. Also, it isn’t considered real engagement or followers. So if you are an influencer, the comments and likes fake accounts make don’t necessarily work in your favor,” she says.
The good thing is that phony Instagram accounts aren't too difficult to find. Here are seven red flags to keep an eye out for if you're trying to root them out:
“Look at the comments the fake accounts have under their photos (if any) or look at the comments they leave under posts on other pages. Usually the comments are irrelevant or spam-like which is a good indicator that it is a fake,” says Barrett. “Once your page is public it is vulnerable to people trying to impersonate your account or trying to get your page shut down or spamming you with irrelevant comments.”