Instagram, the four-year-old photo and video sharing service owned by Facebook, apart from updating its photo editing filters this week, has gone on a massive purge, ridding itself and its users of fake followers and accounts.
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“We’re in the process of fixing an issue that incorrectly includes inactive or fake accounts in follower/following lists. We want to maintain the best possible experience on Instagram, so we do our best to remove spam, fake accounts and other people and posts that don’t follow our Community Guidelines. As we remove these accounts, some people may notice a decrease in their follower/following counts”. Instagram wrote in a blog post.
And this week the purge, titled Instagram Rapture began, with calamitous results. This has not gone down well with users who have lost followers and some have made their feelings known:
“I LOST 50+ FOLLOWERS F*** YOU INSTAGRAM,” one user wrote. “Please stop deleting accounts!”, begged another.
Another user coloured.pixels began a campaign to unfollow the Instagram account. “Everyone, if we all work together Instagram could have no followers, get what I’m saying?”, he wrote. The account lost 29% of its followers.
Not all users were upset by the purge:
“I love you guys even more now because you deleted accounts,” writes user naddyooppp.
In a blog post, Instagram says the purge is a positive move
“When we remove accounts from Instagram that don’t follow our Community Guidelines, you may see a decrease in your follower count,” the company wrote in a blog post last Wednesday. “This shouldn’t affect engagement from authentic accounts that like and comment on your posts.”
The purge also seriously affected some of Instagram’s most followed accounts.
Popular Instagrammers like Justin Bieber’s Instagram fan base dropped by 3.5 million followers in just 24 hours. Akon went from 4.3 million to 1.9 million. Kim Kardashian lost 1.3 million followers, or 5.5% of her fan base on the service.
And for rapper Ma$e, things were catastrophic. Ma$e went from 1.6 million followers to 100 000 in 20 minutes, at which point he decided to close his account entirely.
Nicki Minaj, who lost 50 000 followers, saw the light side (or perhaps she was comforting herself):
Them 500K ppl really thought they was following me tho. Yall played yall self.@instagram
— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) December 18, 2014
The biggest loser in the purge has been Instagram itself. An infographic compiled by software developer Zach Allia reveals that the phot-sharing network lost about 18.9-million users.
Gabe Madway, an Instagram spokesman, confirmed the accuracy of the infographic and added that the accounts that have been deleted had already been deactivated for some time now for sending spam and violating Instagram’s terms of service. He also revealed that the purges will now be more continuous as fake and spam accounts get deleted frequently.
“We totally get that it’s uncomfortable for people,” Mr. Madway said. “The overall goal is we want it to be perceived that the people following you are real.”
Instagram is also sticking to its community guidelines, which state:
“When you engage in self-promotional behavior of any kind on Instagram it makes people who have shared that moment with you feel sad inside. This guideline includes repetitive comments, as well as service manipulation in order to self-promote, and extends to commercial spam comments, such as discount codes or URLs to websites. We ask that you keep your interactions on Instagram meaningful and genuine.”
The accounts that have been deleted do not in anyway affect Instagram’s staggering 300 million monthly actives users as the company had said when the stats were released that this excludes spam accounts.