I use Instagram . Yeah, I know it’s a Meta product. It’s basically among the last bit of social media that I regularly use, though “regularly” is probably being generous. The first thing you’ll notice about my Instagram, though, is it’s about 99% about my dogs. I don’t care to engage with what’s popular on Instagram, or really anywhere else. I’ve managed to keep the toxicity out of my profile and that’s mostly why I keep it. How can you say no to dogs, after all?
As with any social media, though, Instagram has a spam problem. Thankfully, my following is small enough that managing that is easy.
I’ll be abundantly clear: I take a take no prisoners approach to dealing with spam. I don’t just report the post. I report the associated accounts.
Notice “accounts” is plural there? That’s because spammy bot accounts use spammy bot puppets to do their spamming. This is to separate the spam reports away from the spammed account. It’s a method of evading the system.
How it works is there are accounts dedicated to generating as much of a following as possible in order to take advantage of sponsorships and other paid promotions. The bigger the following, the more eyes to see marketing materials. To generate these followings, though, they have to get people to find them. The best way to do that is to follow public feeds and reply to as many related posts as possible.
But this has a problem: Reply to too many too fast and you might get an automated flag for spamming. Get too many people reporting you for spam and you get flagged. If your account gets flagged too much, it getes suspended, or even banned. So spamming for eyes is a bad idea, right?
One way marketing teams love to get the word out about something is word of mouth, though. So you get other people to do the spamming for you and it’s a bit more organic. But what if you want to really push the limits of this and ensure your account is being spammed everywhere? Well, you use puppet accounts, or bots.
Puppet accounts will have very little activity on the account itself. Their followings are likely going to be mostly other puppet accounts in order to make them look more legit. They might have a small handful of pictures posted, in the case of Instagram. Puppet accounts are disposable, so there is no risk in using them. They can, simply, be replaced if they get banned for spamming.
Puppet accounts insulate the main accounts from spam reports and flagging. Which is why I have adopted the take no prisoners approach. I report the account that is being spammed as a spam account. I report the puppet account as a spam account. I report the comment spam as spam. I report it all. My profile states “I don’t do promotional content and report spam.” Any request for promotion of any kind gets reported. Without exception.
Unfortunately, not many people are going to think of this so those low quality accounts that are the source of all this mess continue to exist, and continue to use puppet accounts.
I don’t post on Instagram super frequently. A big reason why is that every post generates at least a small handful of spams and I hate dealing with it.
I’ve, honestly, considered dropping Instagram. I frequent r/greyhounds and I can easily just do my posting there instead. Sure, there’s still spam there, but moderation is tons better.