This December 4th Instagram users are being urged to change their profile settings to “Private” under the hashtag of #OneDayWithoutSpam, many accounts are posting protest banners and the number of visible profiles is already dropping.
Spammers and scammers are increasingly turning their attention to popular social media platforms and that doesn’t simply mean Facebook. Pinterest has been suffering for some time and it seems the volume of fake profiles, hashtag and comment Spam on Instagram has now reached the point where frustrated users feel compelled to take direct action.
One Instagram user told me “On a daily basis I delete around ten to fifteen spam accounts – worst was last week, when I deleted 40 in one go. Also these accounts have managed to take off comments, like etc that I post or others leave on my feed. Sometimes these bots manage to unfollow people that I follow and place their own feed on my followers. It’s superbly annoying. I know many great photographers who have left Instagram for other sites because of the spam, it would be a great shame for this disease to destroy this great platform!“
Reminiscent of the abuse seen for some time now on Twitter, the scammers typically create fake profiles containing links to fake survey sites, shady shopfronts or bogus apps promising “hundreds of new followers”. Hashtag squatting is another common tactics, where popular hashtags are deluged with Spam postings, rendering them unusable for the real Instagram user base.The triple whammy is rounded off with waves of comment spam on individual pictures uploaded by real Instagrammers. Instagram is primarily a smartphone based social media community, and while there has been no evidence to date, this kind of spam campaign could easily be leveraged in the future to push mobile malware or redirect victims to the mobile exploit kits that we expect to see surface in 2013.
Instagram have recently announced technology changes at their backend to help fight this deluge but clearly the user base feel there is more to be done and are making those feelings known. Social media services rely on the goodwill and continued patronage of their customer base to survive. A problem of this nature, left unadressed, could easily be the death knell for such a service. It will be interesting to see if such direct action has any visible effect on how the service itself is run. ^_^