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Posted: 2018-03-13 13:15:00

For advertisers looking for 'brand-safe' environments when spending on social media campaigns this can be startling, Hypetap co-chief executive Detch Singh said.

"Advertisers want to ensure they get what they pay for," he said.

When an Instagram influencer has 20 per cent or more of their audience as low quality, Mr Singh said they tend to stop working with them.

"Many [influencers] have a small percentage of poor quality audiences, but if they're over the threshold it's likely something fishy is going on."

Hypetap has created algorithms that audits Instagram accounts, including checking for the use of profanity and previous brand partnerships. This will be rolled out to other social media platforms in the future.

Checking for fake followers and 'low quality' audiences is now a routine part of doing business for advertisers.


Fake followers can include bots and spam accounts, while disengaged audiences includes people who no longer access or engage on the platform.

Low-quality audiences include followers who routinely follow tens of thousands of accounts, potentially as an effort to increase their own follower count.

Instagram spokesman Ryoko Ichimura said it encouraged "authentic" interactions on its platform.

"We take spam, inauthentic and other abusive behaviour very seriously. As you can imagine, fraudulent activity is bad for everyone – our business and the people that use our platform," he said.

Services that automate or sell likes or follows are considered "spam" and are removed from the platform according to its policy.

"We review suspicious activity closely and take the time to understand how to help prevent similar activity in the future."

Internal estimates show spam makes up a "small fraction" of Instagram's monthly active user base, he said.

Managing fake profiles, bots and "spam" accounts has become front of mind for many social media platforms in the past few years.

Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012, does not allow profiles to include screen names or handles, or to impersonate other people, and actively removes profiles on this basis.

It uses automated and manual systems to block accounts, including those generating fake likes and followers.

The social media company recently changed the way it detects fakery, including looking for repeated posting of the same content and unusual increases in activity.

Social media site Twitter is managing its own issues with fake accounts and bots, and has ramped up efforts to tackle suspicious accounts.

On this platform, 523,000 fake accounts are detected and blocked daily.

Twitter spokesman Nathan Burman said identifying and suspending accounts that violate spam policies was a "key focus".

"We continue to fight hard to tackle any malicious automation on our platform as well as false or spam accounts."

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke writes about media and telecommunications.

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