Instagram strips out fake ‘likes’ tied to 3rd-party apps

Unilever CMO Keith Weed, who has been a longtime advocate for more transparency in advertising on digital platforms, said he is encouraged by the steps Instagram is taking to curb abuse.

Chat with MarTechBot
Instagram Influencer 1

With 119 million followers, Kylie Jenner is one of Instagram’s top influencers.

Starting on Monday, Instagram will begin to remove inauthentic engagement with accounts that use third-party apps to grow their follower count and engagement on the platform — a practice that violates the app’s community guidelines and terms of use.

Why it matters

Instagram influencers are arguably the heart and soul of brand-consumer relationships on the app, but often it’s difficult for brands and advertisers to determine who the real influencers are. Many accounts aiming to gain paid relationships with brands to deliver sponsored posts will use third-party apps to ramp up fake likes, follows and comments so that they can position themselves as an influencer.

Instagram is now taking action against such abuse by removing all inauthentic likes, follows and comments from accounts employing third-party apps used to boost the account’s popularity. The company recruited one of the most vocal champions of transparency in advertising, Unilever CMO Keith Weed, to show support for its efforts.

“Unilever has made clear commitments to clean up influencer marketing and rebuild trust in the digital ecosystem. Dishonest practices like buying fake followers or fake engagement from bots pollute the entire system. We should all be encouraged by these steps from Instagram to identify and address this type of activity,” said Weed, “Instagram is one of the most popular social networks worldwide, and I very much support it taking action and removing inauthentic activity from its platform. It’s another positive step on the journey to build trust back into our digital ecosystems and wider society.”

Leading the marketing efforts for Unilever’s multiple brands — including Dove, Lipton Soup, Axe Body Spray, Noxema and Vaseline — Weed has long advocated for digital platforms to do more in terms of brand safety. Weed was also one of the first who threatened to pull advertising from programmatic platforms that couldn’t guarantee ads would not be shown alongside extremist content.

In April, the CMO said his company would no longer work with social media influencers who paid for followers.

More on Instagram’s fight against abuse on the platform

  • In addition to removing the inauthentic activity from accounts using third-party apps to gain fake followers, likes and comments, Instagram is also making the account owners change their password for safety purposes.
  • Instagram says these latest moves to stop inauthentic activity on the platform will be ongoing, and accounts that continue to use such third-party apps to gain more followers may, “…see their Instagram experience impacted.”
  • In August, Instagram introduced an “About this Account” feature for accounts with large follower numbers that lists the date the account was created and the ads it is running to broaden transparency on the platform.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Amy Gesenhues
Amy Gesenhues was a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.