Instagram is cracking down on fraudulent activity on its platform.
According to a press release, the social media giant will begin removing any likes and follows coming from third-party apps that artificially drive engagement. Instagram says outside services are “bad for the community” and disrupt what it calls “genuine interactions” for its users. The company also notes that giving your Instagram account access to third-party apps makes it less secure.
So how will all this work?
Instagram says it’s built machine learning tools that allow it to identify accounts who use third-party apps. From there, it will send users a message (on Instagram) notifying them that likes and follows from those apps have been removed.
The allure of large Instagram followings has become a high priority for companies and users on the platform. People often use follower and like counts as a barometer when judging how much of an influence a person has in a given community.
Techcrunch’s John Constine notes that if there’s uncertainty about where influence (likes, comments, follows) is coming from, then it could potentially hurt Instagram’s legitimacy moving forward.
“If no one can believe those counts are accurate, it throws Instagram’s legitimacy into question. And every time you get a notification about a fake follow or Like, it distracts you from real life, dilutes the quality of conversation on Instagram and makes people less likely to stick with the app,” John Constine said. “Anyone willing to pay for fake followers doesn’t deserve your attention, and Instagram should not hold back from terminating their accounts if they don’t stop.”
The crackdown comes at a time when Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, is under fire after a bombshell report in the New York Times detailed how the company handled disinformation on its platform following the 2016 elections.
Instagram hasn’t said what will happen to accounts that continue to use third-party apps, but noted that their “user experience may be impacted.”