If you’re into Graham is public as many accounts belonging to influencers and celebrities are, or those who are too concerned about their privacy, there’s an extremely good chance you’re being followed by fake, or bot, accounts.
Seasoned users of Instagram will be able to pinpoint these fake followers. If you take a look at their bios, you’ll find that it’s never been completed, or perhaps they only have a few followers, and some random, nonsensical photos, assuming they have any photos that all. You may think these are harmless and leaves them since they’re just adding to your follower count, but is that safe?
In January 2018. There was a huge exposé in the New York Times, with regards to the business of buying and selling fake followers across social media platforms. This business is immense and troublesome. Some of these bots go so far as to use the likenesses of people without their consent. Put plainly, they are stealing the likenesses of people. This is done for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to push an opinion, scam the unwary, or impact the influence of someone else. A quick Google search will show you that buying these followers is cheap. In many cases, as little as $90 will gain you up to 1000 followers.
Before we go any further, and because I know there’s a lot of you that already know the risks and are looking for solutions, here’s my number one tip about what you can do to protect your Instagram account.
Use a VPN
One of the ways for you to be targeted on Instagram is by the use of Geo-tags. And this may be for malicious intent, or it may be companies who will target you with advertising based on your geolocation. Using a VPN strips away their ability to do that since you can now hide behind another server location other than your own. For more information on what a VPN can do for you, read more here.
Spam & Phishing Attempts
What people who are buying these followers aren’t aware of, however, is that the risks imposed by one of these fake followers far outweigh the benefits. Pete Hunt, the CEO of Smyte, a company that fights online fraud, has the following to say. “Odds are the bot is benign, most likely connecting with you to make itself appear more realistic. However, bots are also used to attack people. The bot may be befriending you so it can send you private messages with spam or phishing attempts.”
What You Can Do to Protect Your Account
We mentioned the use of a VPN above, now let’s talk about some other ways to ensure you keep your Instagram account safe.
Strong Password. If you have researched ways to secure yourself online to any degree, I’m sure you’ve come across the instruction to use a strong password. The same is true with Instagram. They encourage you to have a strong password of at least six — I recommend at least 12 — characters, including numbers, letters, and punctuation marks. They also recommend that this be a unique password, not used on any other site and that you change regularly.
You should especially update your password. If you get a notification from Instagram asking you to do so. This is because Instagram will occasionally recover login information that has been stolen, and if they feel that your password may be included, they will urge you to change your password.
Use a Secure Email Account
Ensuring that your email is secure is another method of protecting your password since anyone who has access to your email will also have access to your Instagram account.
Don’t Ignore Bot Accounts
If you discover that you're being followed by a bot account, don’t simply ignore it. It’s a good practice to report these Instagram. It’s quick and easy to do this, you simply go to the profile of the bot, click the three dots or menu in the far upper right and select Report. Not only will this report the bot, but it will also block it from your follower list.
Generally speaking, it’s best practice to simply block followers you don’t know, but in certain situations, this may be contrary to the purpose of the account. If you are not included in the group of people can set your account to private.
A few other quick tips are to enable two-factor identification, which will ensure that no one other than you can ever access your account. You also have the ability to block access to any third party apps, which may have malicious intent, and finally, it’s a good practice to disallow access to your location.