Instagram is the latest social media platform to crack down on fake likes and comments.
On Monday, the company began removing "inauthentic" likes, follows and comments from accounts that use third-party apps that falsely inflate popularity. In a blog post, Instagram said this is part of a greater effort to maintain an "authentic" platform.
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The move comes as social media sites, including Instagram's parent company Facebook, face increasing criticism over the presence of trolls, fake news and misinformation on their platforms. Earlier this year, Twitter purged tens of millions of accounts from users' follower counts. These accounts were previously locked due to suspicious activity.
Instagram said it built machine learning tools to help detect and remove fake popularity boosting. Users can sign up for such services by providing their username and password in exchange for more likes and followers. These services use bots that leave comments and like posts on real Instagram accounts, often for a fee.
Accounts that use such third-party apps will receive a message notifying them inauthentic likes, follows and comments have been removed from their posts and account. Users will be prompted to change their password and revoke access for the popularity boosting service in order to secure their account. Instagram acknowledges some users may have unintentionally shared their log-in information with third-parties.
An Instagram spokesperson declined to give more details about how the tools identify this behavior, beyond saying spam activity looks different than normal activity on Instagram.
The company said accounts that continue using these third-party services to boost their audience "may see their Instagram experience impacted," according to the blog post. For example, those users could see their number of followers drop as a result.
Earlier this year, the company introduced new machine learning technology to proactively detect bullying in photos and captions. The posts are then sent for review by humans.
It's also made efforts to avoid some of the trust issues plaguing its parent company, Facebook. In August, Instagram announced new tools that help users know who's actually behind some of the platform's largest accounts. It also introduced a new verification system for celebrities and public figures, and began offering support for the use of third-party authenticator apps.
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