Instagram culls millions of follower bots: One user drops from 3.6m to 8 #morto

19 Dec 2014

In what nobody is billing ‘The End Of Time’, Instagram took moves yesterday to remove spam bots from its service. The result? Celebrities and others lost a whole load of ‘followers’.

More than 18.9 million users (29pc of Instagram’s total) vanished yesterday amid the Instagram Rapture, as the image sharing social media service cracked down on a problem itself, Twitter and Facebook are constantly battling.

Justin Bieber lost 15pc of his followers, Kim Kardashian 5.5pc and Ma$e lost so many (dropping from 1.6 million to 272,000) that he apparently quit the service.

The standout result of the purge, however, was seeing user chiragchirag78, who had 3,666,468 followers, drop to eight. The account has since been closed, but it does raise the valid question, who are the eight?

Charting the demise

The figures were revealed by software developer Zach Alia, whose interactive pie chart of the whole affair is truly brilliant, as is his listing of the top 100 users.

A sudden move like this from Instagram, regardless of it’s need, could have costly effects on these celebrities. Large numbers of followers often equate to lucrative endorsement deals, with the New York Times writing earlier this year that one million followers on Instagram costs US$3,700, all bot-driven.

Picture paints a thousand words

With Twitter and Facebook claiming a far lower rate of spam (somewhere around 5pc), this move is quite shocking. Instagram hasn’t disputed Allia’s figures, claiming that the purged users were already deactivated for quite some time.

“The company was only now getting around to deleting all those dead accounts from the follower counts of other users,” reads the New York Times’ piece on it. “From now on, purges will be more continuous as fake or spam accounts are deleted.”

Instagram had notified users that there may be a drop in follower numbers, but that’s probably not enough to keep all those egos massaged. However not everyone is miffed by the cull.





Chasing bots image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic