How To Tell If An Instagram Account Is Fake Based On These 6 Glaring Red Flags

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

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."

The good news is that phony Instagram accounts aren't too difficult to find. Here are six red flags to keep an eye out for if you're trying to root them out:

1. It Has A Generic Bio

Oftentimes, you can get the sense that an account is fake just by looking at its bio or description. Those who are creating fake accounts usually do so by the dozen or hundred. Since creativity is not their main concern, their bios look highly fabricated or randomly generated, according to Veloce International, a social media strategy site.

2. It Doesn't Have Many Posts

Sure, not everyone uses Instagram religiously. But if an account that already seems shady barely has any pictures or posts, odds are it's a fake account. It may seem counterproductive to create fake accounts and not have them post anything, but sometimes these fake Instagram accounts, or "bots," are there for following accounts rather than posting content, according to Wired. Because Instagram influencers get chosen and paid based on their audience size, some of them could be buying into fake accounts just to up their own appeal.

3. The Posts It Does Have Promote A Product

If an account does have posts, but the posts consist only of promotional material, suspicious give-aways, or fake discounts on items, it's likely that the account is fake, according to Mashable. These accounts are either attempting to trick you into buying into a scam, or clicking on a link that may be beneficial to their numbers.

4. Its Followers Are Random

An Instagram account is often used as a way to share posts with friends and family, and then expand to other followers. So, if you see that an account has a bunch of random followers with no consistent people commenting on their pictures, there's a chance that the account is fake.

5. It's Following A Lot Of Other Accounts

Usually Instagram accounts have almost as many followers as it does the number of accounts it's following (or even more). But fake accounts, because they go on random and intensive following sprees, will have a higher ratio of accounts they're following than actual followers that they have — and this number is usually significant, according to onehowto.com, a how-to blog that answers common questions.

6. It Was Created Recently

Fake accounts are usually created quickly and in large numbers, without having much of a lifespan to them. This means that seeing how old the Instagram account is can be an indicator of whether the account is real or fake. Whether the account has one post or many, if you see that its posts are all fairly recent and posted over the span of a short time, this can mean the account is fake, according to Forbes. Fake accounts will sometimes have tons of posts to make it seem like a real account, but if these are all from around the same time, they might be spamming to fake authenticity.

A fake Instagram account may not be a real concern to you, but if one of these accounts seems suspicious or trying to scam or impersonate someone, you might want to report it. Though these red flags don't always mean an account is fake, they should definitely make you stop and think twice.