December 2, 2022
As Instagram has grown from a small social media platform to one of the most used social spaces today, the amount of users, both real and fraudulent, has grown in parallel. In an effort to maintain the integrity of the platform, ensuring that spam accounts and accounts committing community violations are regularly identified and removed, Instagram has to conduct routine “purges” in order to rid these users from their ecosystem indefinitely. For example, Instagram users saw significant purges take place in 2014 and 2019, where a large number of largely followed accounts, mostly mainstream celebrities, were impacted by the millions.

Instagram isn’t the only social media platform who continuously checks the validity of users on their accounts by removing accounts that are either inactive, fake, suspected to be bots, in violation of terms of service, or engaging in inauthentic activity. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube often follow similar practices in an attempt to keep their user bases legitimate.

In a recent report, AI influencer marketing platform HypeAuditor found that an Instagram purge was likely responsible for the 13.5% of all Instagram influencers that were impacted by a decrease in followers from September 6 to 13 of this year. Collected on an analysis of 33.7 million Instagram accounts, the data found that Macro influencers – which are defined by accounts with 100 thousand to 1 million followers – lost the greatest number of followers over the two-week period, with 31.3% of Macro influencer accounts being impacted by a decrease. Following closely behind at 30.7% were Mega influencers – accounts with over 1 million followers.

Gaining followers consistently for the month prior, ten of the top mega influencers on Instagram lost a total of 16.3 million followers from August 30 to September 13. Losing the greatest number of followers were celebrity sisters Kim and Khloe Kardashian who both lost 2.4 million followers, followed closely by actress Selena Gomez with a decrease of 2.2 million. Additional accounts with a large depletion in follower count can be found below.

While at first glance a purge of this size may appear to be a major issue to both impacted influencers and the brands that are partnering with them as a part of their influencer marketing campaigns, loss in followers of major accounts is not something either party should be too concerned with. Purges conducted by Instagram will help influencers to maintain real, genuine audiences and have little to do with actual engaged followers. This also validates brand investments in influencers as it ensures they are reaching an undisputed audience.

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Providing additional insight into the data, Alexander Frolov, co-founder and CEO of HypeAuditor stated, “The massive loss of followers that stars like Cristiano Ronaldo or Kim Kardashian are currently experiencing does not mean that millions of fans are giving up their loyalty. Instead, we suspect that the origin lies with Instagram itself. Such a purge of inactive or fraudulent accounts is nothing new.”

Frolov goes on to explain, “We estimate that only about 60 percent of all Instagram accounts are real people. The rest are bots, inactive accounts, or mass followers – and it is pretty unlikely that they are genuinely interested in shared content. So, it only makes sense that Instagram should also remove mass accounts like these.”

This isn’t the first Instagram purge the platform has seen and it certainly will not be the last. What’s important to keep in mind when large account deletions like this are conducted in the future is that these accounts are being removed for the overall safety, fairness, and authenticity of the social media platform.

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