Just before press time a major upset happened in the world of social media: The Great Instagram Purge of 2014! Now maybe you think this doesn’t affect you, but the reality is, if you have any number of followers, it could. The now 4-year-old site, in an effort to delete inactive and spam accounts, has finally made the effort to do a little digital policing. In a place where buying Instagram followers is a prevalent thing – or at least rumored to be so – it is hard to imagine that it would not affect some people here. Now, of course, that is not to say that anybody who loses followers had bought them, but rather that they would likely have more followers overall and at the very least would therefore be more likely to be effected.
Here is the thing about everybody freaking out about this: NOTHING HAS CHANGED! According to Gabe Maway, an Instagram spokesman, “these are not active accounts that you were previously in contact with”; these accounts were blocked or suspended long ago. It is just that Instagram is only just now deleting them from other people’s follower numbers. So, if you really care about your following and not just overinflated numbers, you should not care at all. Still, many are up in arms. Here is the biggest fall out so far:
Instagram: They themselves lost 18.9 million (nearly 29%) from their official page in the purge. While that seems a lot, they do seem to be the only people who don’t care. Probably because it’s their site and they’re in the driver’s seat.
The R&B singers: Ariana Grande lost 1.5 million (of 21million). Beyoncé, meanwhile, only lost 800,000 of her 22 million people – perhaps her fans are more real that the rest of these guys!
The Rappers: Rapper Ma$e, who lost more than 1 million followers, deleted his account altogether after being accused of paying for followers. Rapper Akon, lost 56% of his total following when he dropped from 4.3 to 1.9 million.
The Unknown: Perhaps the biggest loser is a guy named @chirag_chirag78 who lost 99.9998% of his followers when he went from 3,660,468 followers to…8. Yes, that is correct – just 8. Then he was deleted. Never fear though, he has apparently started another account with a similar name and the tagline at the top, “what happened to my 3 million followers?” What happened, indeed!
The Icons: Kim Kardashian is now the most followed person on earth (at least on Instagram). Let that sink in for a second. This, despite the fact that she lost 1.3 million followers in the purge. The 3.5 million that Justin Bieber lost turned out to be too much for him to retain his previous crown.
For those who don’t know how many of the fake accounts are created, there has long been a thriving black market in social media friendship. These fake followers can actually equate to real market dollars for people who wish to sell advertising and services based on assumed reach. This is all done via bots, which mechanizes the acquisition of new friends on an ongoing basis. Some can even manufacture other fake interactions such as retweets, likes, favorites, up-votes and even comments.
In a New York Times blog exposing these practices earlier this year, Nick Bilton says he was able to buy 4,000 followers for 5 bucks (that’s 1.46 KD people!) and for a couple more, he could have half of them ‘like’ a picture of his. For USD 3,750 (just under 1000 KD) he could buy 1,000,000 followers, and for USD 40 more, 10,000 would ‘like’ a photo. Supposedly the bots are getting more sophisticated and can even mimic human patterns in their techniques, such as only sending follower requests at times that most people might still be awake. In short, these things are only getting better and more pervasive, and will thus likely continue to be around for some time.
For those who were previously living in a cave, Instagram is available via the App store or on Instagram.com. Bots are everywhere too, sometimes obvious, sometimes less obvious. Only the purchaser will truly know…