INSTAGRAM’S GROWING BOT PROBLEM

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Instagram is one of the few social media application or platforms to enjoy a vast growth over a short period of time. Just recently, the total number of users on Instagram was pegged at 1 billion. Out of this many users, it is believed that 95 million of the accounts are managed by bots who are posing as real accounts on the platform. This was in accordance with the study conducted by Ghost Data. Bots can be defined as accounts controlled by computers rather than humans.

Although this number was quite higher than what was observed by a similar study conducted in 2015. This increase is however attributed to the fact that these bots are one of the key drivers as far as propaganda and the spread of fake news which is common with major social media sites was concerned. While these scandals were carried out mostly on WhatsApp and Facebook, experts who studied the event critically were of the view that Instagram is the next frontier in the war on misinformation. Remember that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are owned by the same company.

Based on the information gathered by Ghost Data, it was discovered that the total number of bot accounts in operation on Instagram has risen by a whopping 9.5% in 2017 alone. This was against the 7.9% that was observed in 2015 when Ghost Data conducted the last research similar to this. In 2015, Instagram only had 300 million active users after purging the social media platform of all fake accounts in 2014.

To effectively conduct this research, Ghost Data paid for 20,000 bot accounts which were used to study the behavior and traits of the bot accounts in order to gain an insight into how these similar identities can be identified in similar characteristics in about a million Instagram accounts which were operated by bots. Ghost Data discovered that the bots tended to follow many popular Instagram accounts, but only post little content in the form of photos of models which were taken from other websites.

The general rising challenges of bot accounts on Instagram has revealed that these fake accounts remained rampant on major social media platforms. This is a major concern for marketers who spend a huge amount of money for endorsement based on the total number of followers gathered by social influencers and celebrities. Several users on social media always sought for ways to create an appearance of influence which will boost their careers or political activism by purchasing followers. This major problem has led to the growing industry of social media auditors who will assist with advertisers identify fake accounts and also avoid overpaying for engaging social media ads. Especially when it’s so easy for users to buy fake views and likes on Instagram.

Due to its emphasis on imagery which is more difficult to scan than texts containing keywords, Instagram has been regarded as the most vulnerable social media platform in the market. The rate at which videos and images go viral has greatly added to the difficulty of curtailing the use of offensive materials on Instagram.

Conclusion

The growing Instagram bot problem is evident in its propagation of fake news. For this menace to be curtailed, the level of security needs to be improved upon to check the activities of these bots.