How to Know if an Instagram Account Is Fake
One of the biggest problems with Instagram - as with other social networking platforms - is the abundance of fake accounts. Fake Instagram accounts, also known as bots, are worrying because they are normally used for advertising to spam accounts and provide false information. Not only is this bothersome as it fills an account with fake or false information, but it is also potentially dangerous. These bot accounts can amass many followers and influence in a negative way, as well as collect important personal data.
This is why oneHOWTO wants to help you spot fake Instagram followers or bot accounts. Keep reading to find out how to spot fake Instagram accounts and fake followers on Instagram.
Signs an Instagram account is fake
As Instagram's rise has been formidable, many users are starting to see that not every account can be trusted. Since more and more people are making their money off social media, there are genuine people trying to monetize their art, handmade products, advice or other services. There are also fake accounts which try to steal money by providing none of these things, but looking like they do.
Fake accounts may also be used to create influence, either politically or socially. Some fake accounts are also made just to make fun. Even those which are relatively benign can add to the growing amount of fake news and confusing information which is out there.
Many people will get to know a fake account instinctively, but there are clever ones which can be tricky to determine. Firstly, if something seems suspicious, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Secondly, there are tips and tricks you can employ to see if an Instagram account is fake. You should:
- Identify spammers
- Look for suspicious tagging
- Spot fake celebrities
- Check with a third party app
- Check the followers
- Catch a catfish
- Look for fake pictures
- Use other ways to spot a fake Instagram account
We detail how you can use these tips to spot a fake Instagram account in the sections below.
One of the most common characteristics of fake accounts are spam comments. They're not too hard to identify - they repeat the same message, the same photos, links to websites, etc. It is also quite common for the comments to be in a different language.
Spammers come in all shapes and sizes, however. There are genuine bloggers out there who make bold claims in their bios, but you should be able to tell if they are legit by the other ways to identify fake Instagram accounts in this list.
Many, however, will claim that by following them you will receive something incredible. This could be everything from a free gift when you sign up to something or a cash giveaway. The latter happens a lot with people claiming they won the lottery and want to share their prizes. With fake Instagram accounts, if they seem too good to be true, it is likely that they are.
Always Beware of Users Asking for Money on Instagram
Other scammers include accounts pretending to be boutique stores. They will claim they need money up front and will probably try to conduct their business over WhatsApp. These are warning signs as should be the quality of the account. Only purchase from certified merchants who use secure payment methods such as PayPal. Other scams include posting pictures of abused animals claiming to be an animal shelter in need of donations (genuine shelters do this too, but a quick Google search should be able to prove if they are real).
All of these raise red flags that the Instagram account is a fake. The more you see fake accounts, the easier it becomes to recognize the signs.
Look for suspicious tagging
On top of the traits mentioned above, the mentions and tags to other Instagram accounts tend to be the same. If you notice an account sending you a lot of mentions every time you post something on your Instagram without any apparent reason, the account is probably fake. You cannot tag other people's photos, but fake accounts may tag you or mention you in a comment to get your attention. They may do this to pretend they know you or are related to you somehow. This may be by a fake account, but it might also be a genuine person trying to troll you. They're both not good.
You can also see by the comments they make. They will often be generic comments to similar style posts which may or may not even be related to the content. They may seem human at first, but when you see the same message repeated or posting unrelated comments, it should start to click that something is up.
If you want to avoid being tagged or mentioned by other people, you probably want to learn how to make your profile private on Instagram.
Creating a false account which impersonates a famous person is all-too-common a practice. Singers, actors or athletes are not spared. When searching for someone famous on Instagram, your search result will be filled with many people using the same name. To help find the authentic account, look out for the verification tick.
These marks are just a small white tick on a blue background, confirming the authenticity of an account. It is identical to other social networks, like Twitter.
Fake celebrity accounts tend to use the celebrity's name, but with a twist. This may include the suffix ‘-official’, use a nickname or will make a small typo which looks real if you don't pay attention. Kanye West famously deleted his Instagram account, but there are so many fake accounts pretending to be him. These include profiles such as:
Another thing fake accounts which use celebrities to troll users do is to add the celebrities real followers. If you already follow a celebrity and then you are added by someone else claiming to be them, it is almost certainly a fake account. If a celeb changes their account, they will usually let their followers know.
Check with a third party app
You can also use third party apps which can scan your followers. These apps are supposed to scan all your followers, activity, interactions, etc. to determine those that have been inactive for more than 180 days. These inactive accounts are another indication that the account may be false. They can then generate a list of those inactive followers. You decide who you want to delete from your list of followers.
However, some of these apps are in themselves scammers. With recent data breaches, social media platforms have increased their security and once useful tools such as Social Blade are no longer able to scan your Instagram accounts (as of updating this post). Apps which do claim to be able to tell you your analytics will often be malware in disguise, so be very careful and check reviews.
Check the followers
Finally, although it is not a 100%-reliable strategy, look at the type of account and activity. A recent study revealed that false accounts have an average of 6 publications, below the average of 55 that regular users post. Just 29% of the fake accounts did not have data (profile picture, biography, full name or location); therefore, those that you come across that don't have a photo, biography and with very little activity are bound to be fake.
Catch a catfish
Even if they're not celebrities, you can know if an account is fake and using someone else's photos by using reverse image search on Google. This is an easy way to know if someone is using your pictures to catfish or using another person's account.
Take a look at our article on how to do a Google reverse image search to learn more.
Look for fake pictures
The profile pictures in general can often help you see if an account is fake. This is because they will most often look like a professional picture of a very attractive person. They will have few pictures of themselves and the ones they do may seem like they have been taken in the same situation or same day. They will not have candid personal pictures. Essentially these will be stock photos used to attract you. It is harder to tell when they have simply copied other people's photos as this can look legitimate. Hopefully the original person will report them.
Also, pictures which look too good to be true in general might be a warning sign. If they have very professional looking nature pictures or animal pictures, they might very well be fake.
If you are being annoyed by a particular fake account, then you can also find out how to block someone on Instagram at oneHOWTO.
Some other ways to spot a fake Instagram account
There are some warning signs that a user may be a fake account. Most of them are common sense, but it might be helpful to create a short list:
- They say something like ‘follow me and I'll follow back’ (maybe not even fake, but are just using you for followers)
- They follow many more people than follow them
- Few posts or seem to be generally inactive
- Has no other accounts on other social media platforms
- There are random numbers inserted into their username
- Lots of likes, but no comments
For more, you may also be interested in reading how to know if someone blocked you on Instagram.
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