Thursday, October 21, 2021

Fake Instagram followers and why nobody will talk about it

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by Dr. Erich Fromm, founder of

Instagram’s new revelation that fake accounts are driving up our Instagram ads prices speaks to something that deserves to be on everyone’s lips this week: Beware of online influencers.

Even if you’ve never considered paying for an Instagram follower, do you now want to know what that refers to? It might be the equivalent of paying a woman on Tinder for sex, or paying to be a funeral expert in death metal magazine; in essence, it’s paying to be someone.

And that’s not just a cultural conundrum; social media takes us much deeper into where our dollars go, whether it’s in production or marketing, and with nearly every dollar spent in today’s market place, fake followers comes at a price. And Facebook and Instagram, platforms that reward reach and authenticity, need to get the message across that people want the real and authentic things from the brands on their platforms — things that come with action, not just a piece of paper filled with them.

What started as harmless perks has turned into a deep cultural distortion, with many brands actually paying for it. We may associate this with the rise of direct-to-consumer, but can anyone blame a business for wanting what many see as a valuable marketing tool?

Faking followers is when someone sells a financial strategy or product promise they don’t have the goods to back up. The question is, who’s driving the demand for it? That’s who’s selling it, and there are no rules.

Mauger from reported, “There’s an entire market for social-network followers which are unreal, ghostwritten by the corporate influencer. Profits from these followers are substantial. The trick is getting them paid. There are websites that offer to do so, and they charge on average from $2 to $100 per follower, and sometimes offer sums much higher. Some sites also seem to have no limitations on how much they can charge, or how many fake followers they can make…Like with any sort of thing, you never know.”

Fake followers are the internet’s dirty little secret, and it isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Instagram hasn’t removed the database of fake accounts, and many are still forming their own echo chambers by giving brands free reign on our accounts.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we actually knew what a fake follower is? Or would we rather just blindly follow the recommendations of a social media person?

That was probably the worst part about being arrested in 2017 after posting on Instagram and Snapchat a video of guns pointing towards our presidential inauguration. I would guess most of the non-fictional followers that offered me $1,000 for the video were people I actually knew. I just didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I joined Facebook as an anxious teenager who was looking for a better social life and new friends. I didn’t imagine it would be so difficult in the social media world to hide your true identity. It was. That really caught me off guard.

Who would make a song about being “at all times,” but for the moment just for Facebook? Who would have gone completely overboard creating fake accounts to get followers to love your song? Unless you really like pinging followers about your new website idea. How about creating two different accounts? One that just seems to say that they have an opinion on whatever it is that you’re sharing on your Twitter account? One with your real name? One called “Impostor?” Guess which one you would use to show off your product idea?

Then who’s paid Instagram using @impostor_at_my_account to get their followers? You don’t want to mess with an account with 50,000 followers? But guess what? I do, and I’m not alone. It’s understandable, what with the ridiculous amounts that brands pay to get them to like and comment on their post. And we can all get on board for those free product samples, do we really need to pay the creator that much for it?

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