The new breed of Instagram spambots are savvier than ever, and that’s because they’re pretending to be you.
But the new spambots are different than the Instagram accounts set up earlier in this year, which impersonated real lottery winners and offered money to people who followed them. In an effort to avoid spam filters, these new spambots are creating new accounts using real people’s names, their Instagram pictures, and even their photo captions, The Verge first reported Wednesday morning.
And Instagram users are taking notice to the fake accounts that are impersonating them.
Here’s what the real Instagram account looks like compared to the spambot impersonator:
It’s likely that these spam accounts are part of a black market for people that pay for fake followers. It’s a trend that occurs across social media platforms: users pay for followers for any number of reasons — to make themselves look more credible, perhaps, or just to make their “cool ratio” more favourable.
The Verge noted some patterns across the spambot accounts: The spambots tend to follow thousands of other users, but don’t have many of their own followers. Users tend to realise their online identity is being copied when the Instagram spambot reposts a photo caption word for word, tagging the real user’s friends in a caption originally posted by the real Instagram user.
Instagram provides some guidelines for what to do if you’re being impersonated, The Verge points out. You’ll have to report the account to Instagram and then prove your own identity by submitting a form of ID.
Instagram launched its first initiative to wipe out spam accounts in April.