Instagram Cracks Down on Phony Comments and Follows

Facebook-owned app will remove “inauthentic behavior” from accounts using third-party apps to spam other users

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Instagram is cracking down on bots that pepper your pictures with canned comments and follow your account, only to unfollow minutes later.

The Facebook-owned app announced on Monday that it’s targeting “inauthentic activity” from accounts using third-party apps to post spam likes, comments and follows.

“Recently, we’ve seen accounts use third-party apps to artificially grow their audience,” Instagram said in a blog post. “Every day people come to Instagram to have real experiences, including genuine interactions. It is our responsibility to ensure these experiences aren’t disrupted by inauthentic activity.”

Instagram said it’ll use new machine learning tools to remove inauthentic activity. Accounts using the third-party apps will be issued a warning by Instagram and told to change their passwords. These accounts “may see their Instagram experience impacted,” the company added, although it didn’t explain what repercussions that would include.

Instagram users won’t see a major decline in followers, as Recode reported on Monday; the policy will only impact users moving forward. Instagram’s move to delete bot accounts follows a similar step its parent company has taken in the last year. Facebook has removed thousands of accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in recent months, with Russian and Iranian-tied accounts spreading misinformation. Instagram, on the other hand, is aiming to thwart the third-party tools many users leverage to grow their follower count.