Back in December 2014, Instagram cracked down on spammers and fake accounts by removing those who didn’t meet up to the company’s community guidelines. Some users were thrilled about the cleanup because it legitimized their followers; while others were outraged as they saw their number of followers plummet (especially those who paid for them).
How exactly do these spam bots and fake accounts find their way to you?
When you use multiple hashtags, this makes you more visible and searchable, resulting in all kinds of wanted – and unwanted – followers. Paying for followers is another big magnet.
Sure, it may seem great to have thousands of followers, whether they’re genuine or not, but the consequences of having fake followers are that they clutter your stream, reduce your engagement, don’t add any real ROI (i.e. they can’t buy your products and services); and they further expose you to phishing and spam activity, putting your account at risk for deletion for breaking community guidelines.
Many users with a mass of followers are none the wiser that a significant number of them are actually bots. In fact, they might even be following a bunch of bogus accounts themselves without even realizing it.
If you’re looking to kick bots to the curb, here are four tools to help you find and get rid of the fake accounts that have infiltrated your Instagram and Twitter profiles. Note that you may need to grant access to your account in order for reporting to take place.
TwitterAudit is a tool developed by Dave Caplan and David Gross. It works by taking a random sample of 5,000 followers from your Twitter account (ideal for large accounts) and assigns a score to each follower based on the ratio of followers to following, the number of tweets, and the date of the last tweet from the account.
Currently, only the free version of TwitterAudit is available, which will provide your score. When the pro version is eventually released, it will also let you hide your audit, block followers and re-audit your account at any time.
#2: Fakers App
Developed by StatusPeople, this app produces a report from your account enabling you to see how many fake or inactive accounts follow you, as well as check on the competition.
StatusPeople’s definition of a spam account is one that has few or no followers, has little activity and yet follows a massive number of accounts.
The report also lets you view a few details about your followers, such as their language preference and tweet activity.
The app offers three levels of service:
- Free – unlimited checks on your Twitter handle, plus eight free searches for friends or competitors, and basic analytics.
- Basic – unlimited searches and advanced analytics. It also allows you to manually block fake accounts and track up to five friends
- Premium – auto-block fake accounts and track up to 15 friends.
Developed by Michael Landers, this app’s motto is, “IG is about people, not numbers.” The message is clear! IGExorcist allows you to check for ghost followers on Instagram, which are the inactive or bot accounts that follow you. It works by crosschecking your followers against accounts you’re following to measure interaction over the past 300 days.
Once you grant access to your account, you’ll be able to view a list of inactive users. Because of its in-depth process, it can take a few minutes to generate results.
The main criteria for removal are when people are following you and you aren’t following them, and they haven’t liked or commented on a photo in the past 300 days. The app doesn’t remove people you’re following.
If you want, you can bulk delete any of the users identified as inactive. The process takes about 2-3 seconds per follower. The default setting is to remove all of the followers identified, but you can protect a user by clicking on their picture.
Created by Socialbakers, the social analytics company, this is a free app that will generate a report by checking 100 of your followers at random against a list of criteria, including follower-to-following ratio, red flag (spammy) words, a high percentage of tweets that are retweets or links, and more.
Socialbakers defines an account as inactive if it hasn’t tweeted in the past 90 days or sent fewer than three tweets.
The report, with a 10-15% margin of error, will also let you see some of the suspicious/empty accounts identified during the scan. You can block those accounts by clicking the Block All button.
*Note: This app is currently unavailable due to updates currently in progress at the time of this post, but be sure to check back for the improved version, available soon.
Keep in mind that not all accounts flagged by these tools are fake, so be sure to check out the accounts slated for deletion before hitting the ‘go’ button. Some empty accounts could merely be people who have a Twitter account to follow news and sports, for example.
What’s your take on fake followers? Have you used any tools to monitor your follower behaviour? Share your thoughts in the comments sections below.