If you've noticed that you're Instagram numbers have been a little topsy-turvy recently, you are not alone. No, you didn't on some kind of random rant and lose followers because you admitted that you think anchovies are the best pizza topping — there seems to be a larger issue at play. Overnight, many users reported that they have lost Instagram followers and their numbers have plummeted — and Instagram has confirmed that they are aware of the issue and they are on the case. “We’re aware of an issue that is causing a change in account follower numbers for some people right now," the company tweeted. "We’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible."
While the cause of the bug has yet to be made clear, some have wondered whether this is part of Instagram's attempt to deal with fake accounts. Could it be a giant cull of bots and spammers? It's not obvious yet, but as some people have found that they've not only lost followers, but unfollowed people, it may turn out to be something a little more complicated.
Many users are reporting losing tens, hundreds, or even thousands of followers overnight, but the those most affected seem to be — unsurprisingly — celebrities. Some celebrities, including Ariana Grande and other of Instagram's most popular peeps — seem to have lost millions. (Personally, I lost five followers — so let's all take a moment of silence for my struggle.)
If it is a cull of bots and spam users, then there's something satisfying in thinking that all of these paid for followers might suddenly just disappear into thin air. The fact that you can now buy Instagram followers from a vending machine (it's a real thing) and create totally bloated follower number is a frustrating reality that many of us normal people out here, with like four followers, just have to deal with. But if it's a bug and people are losing genuine followers and unfollowing real accounts without meaning to, then this situation could be a much bigger mess.
Although losing followers might be frustrating and a bit of a disappointment, there has been some real anger coming out. Though for some people Instagram is essential to their paycheck and their livelihood, for most of us it's just a pastime. Seeing regular users who are this upset about losing some followers on app seems like a startling insight into just how much we're validated through social media. If losing a few dozen or hundred or thousand followers can throw your entire world into a spin, it may be time for a digital detox — because the way we interact with social media can have a huge impact on our mental health.
"Even the most popular Instagram influencers will say they're obsessed with their likes and new followers to a fault," Alanna Harvey, the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder at Flipd, a digital wellness company, tells Bustle, "The problem is that this takes up your mental capacity to pay attention to other things, and to truly enjoy being present; It increases your anxiety, and need to check for more." If you find that this bug is throwing you into a tailspin, you may want to look at your app usage as a whole.
So far, we don't know what is causing the change in Instagram followers — hopefully the company will sort it out soon. But in the meantime, breath out — and remember, it's just an app.