Some people have a lot of Instagram followers, truth be told, some followers might be fake.

It turns out that even if you have never bought followers, you may have a few bots following you.

Although it is unavoidable and bots are harmless, the best thing is to report them to Instagram.

The dangerous bots might try to phish you by sending spam or harmful links via DM and it is not worth the risk of keeping them around.

Late last year, Instagram cracked down on third-party apps that boost your account using fake followers, promising that there will be repercussions for users who continued to buy bots but it’s unclear what those repercussions were.

However, fake accounts still abound, with a recent survey showing celebrity accounts like Ellen DeGeneres, BTS and Ariana Grande had about 46 and 49 per cent fake follower counts.

According to CNBC, fake followers on influencer accounts will cost brands a total of $1.3 billion this year alone.

Filtering fake accounts

Watch out for a few telltale signs to spot a fake account. For example, if you notice a user liking a random assortment of your photos or leaving random, generic comments (“great post!”) in rapid succession, there’s a good chance it is affiliated with a third-party booster and is trying to tempt you into following it back.

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At most, it’s someone trying to rapidly inflate their follower count, probably a person you want to follow anyway.

Pay attention to the profile itself. Be suspicious if the user if following thousands of people but doesn’t have many followers or posts themselves, or if their account appears to have been inactive for a long time.

Some sneakier bots post a lot of content to appear real.

If you are unsure, pop a photo or two into a reverse Google image search and see if it’s been lifted from another user or another website entirely.

Super obvious fake accounts are easy to detect. There’s the bot that posts a bunch of stolen photos of different women as if you will not notice they’re not the same person.

The fake discount account promises low prices on luxury items (frequently Ray-Bans) in an attempt to get you to click on a suspicious link.

The most obvious culprit of all is the account with nothing on it – no photos, no posts, no followers.

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Their handle is something like “Chloe8438488382” or some similar garbage. Delete them and say ‘Goodbye, bot. You did not even put forth an effort.’

It gets dumber!

Finally, it must be said: Just because someone meets one of these criteria does not automatically make them a bot. They could simply be really bad at Instagram.

imagine being able to hack into thousands of people’s instagram accounts only to advertise twenty dollar ray-bans

— maha khan (@mahaaaay) May 23, 2018

Not sure if someone’s followers are real, but don’t want to spend your valuable and finite time inspecting each one individually? There are a few ways to tell if a big chunk of someone’s followers are bots.

‘Fake followers, for the most part, don’t do anything except follow you.’

First, look at how many likes the user gets per post. If it’s only a tiny portion of their follower count — as in, the ratio is really, really off — there’s a good chance many of their followers are inactive bots.

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There are a number of third-party websites that allege they can detect which of a user’s followers are fake. Those results, however, should be taken with a grain of salt. You can also try running the account through the social media statistics website SocialBlade, which will inform you of any sudden jumps in follower count.

If a user’s follower count skyrockets for no discernible reason, it’s likely they’ve paid to inflate their numbers.

In general, it’s a bad idea to get involved with bots at all — and inflating your follower count artificially won’t have any benefits that are actually meaningful. The better option is to grow your account organically as best you can. You can still use as many annoying hashtags as you want.