2 min read

Instagram Deleting Accounts: Why Have You Lost Followers?

UPDATE: Instagram’s Twitter account confirmed that this was a glitch, not an effort to remove inauthentic accounts.

Instagram users have reported losing followers overnight. Some accounts have lost more than others, with Ariana Grande losing nearly three million + Selena Gomez losing almost two million. A PR field day! More seriously, however, marketing campaigns that involve the use of influencers on social media, could be heavily impacted if there is a mass loss of followers.

What’s up, Instagram? Is it a glitch (as some users hope) or is something happening?

Fake, bot + inactive Instagram accounts are deleted

Instagram has deleted millions of accounts in an effort to get rid of bots, spam or inactive accounts.  Between Tues 12 Feb + Weds 13 Feb, the latest “Instagram Purge” occurred.

This recent assault on fake accounts follows a series of attempts to keep the app free of bots and automated activity.

A blog post from November last year detailed how the social platform plans to reduce inauthentic activity. So it’s not really a surprise.

Accounts we identify will receive an in-app message alerting them that we’ve removed the inauthentic activity given to their account from others. We will also ask them to secure their account by changing their password.

Accounts that use these types of apps share their username and password, which is sometimes used to give inauthentic likes, follows and comments to others.” – Instagram.

Instagram fake account purgeInstagram reduces inauthentic activity

Is this a bad thing?


For most users, losing any amount of inactive/fake/bot accounts is not an issue. These accounts aren’t engaging with your content.

The only thing that has changed is the follower number on an account. That’s it.

So it makes no difference to any of your posts’ performance or your experience on Instagram.

People who are upset about losing these followers will be those who have bought followers. Or those who pay a subscription to third-party “Grow Your Instagram” apps.

Having a smaller, but more engaged + active following is surely better than having a fake, inactive following.

Why is Instagram deleting spam accounts?

The social media platform is a great way to build a following. With this great potential for reach comes monetization. Influencers use Instagram to build a following and partner with brands for paid product placements or shout outs.

As influencers grow in popularity, so does the popularity of being an influencer. Some grow their account authentically, but others are out for a quick win.

Signing up for third-party services that automatically grow your account is one of these ‘quick wins’. You give over your account details (username + password) and it uses the app for you, following/unfollowing users, liking and commenting spam.

These are genuine, active accounts that use third-party apps for growth. But you can also buy followers, meaning that inactive bot accounts follow you.

These are the types of accounts that have been deleted in the most recent Instagram purge.

Who is affected most?

Larger accounts often have the most bot followers, as is the case with Ariana Grande + Selena Gomez.

Smaller influencers will likely be affected too, as other wannabe influencers will follow them thanks to the third-party apps.

This doesn’t mean that they’ve bought followers, just that accounts with inauthentic activity follow them.

Those who are most affected will be those who buy followers or use third-party apps to drive growth.

Has anyone been affected by the latest Instagram purge? Let us know on Twitter @honcho_search, or drop us a comment below!

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