Have you lost Instagram followers? So have some celebrities and it’s because of a bug
If you’ve noticed that you have fewer followers on your Instagram account than you did before, you’re not alone.
Users began noticing the change yesterday, with many complaining they saw their numbers drop “within seconds”.
For some, the drop was pretty negligible, having lost a dozen or so followers overnight.
But for others, particularly bigger accounts with millions of followers, the loss was significant — at least one person complained of losing almost 500,000 followers overnight.
Who lost followers?
It’s still unclear how many users have been affected, but at this stage the problem looks pretty widespread.
Social media consultant Matt Navarra pointed out on Twitter that celebrity accounts suffered some of the biggest follower losses.
According to his figures, Kylie Jenner lost roughly 2.5 million followers, Katy Perry lost 900,000 and even Barack Obama lost 450,000.
So what’s behind the issue?
Users were quick to blame it on a cull of fake or inactive accounts, but a statement from Instagram has clarified that it’s probably a bug.
It tweeted that it was aware of the issue, and working to resolve it as “quickly as possible”.
We’re aware of an issue that is causing a change in account follower numbers for some people right now. We’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible.
In an update, the Facebook-owned site said it expected to have the issue resolved by 4:00am Friday AEDT.
“We understand this is frustrating, and our team is hard at work to get things back to normal,” it said.
Instagram hasn’t released any further details about the issue and has been contacted for comment.
What added to the confusion around the follower purge is that the company had released a statement late last year saying that it was going to crack down on “inauthentic activity”.
“Starting today, we will begin removing inauthentic likes, follows and comments from accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity,” it said at the time.
“We’ve built machine learning tools to help identify accounts that use these services and remove the inauthentic activity.”
CNET senior editor Claire Reilly told Radio National at the time that the crackdown on fake accounts was a result of “a whole ecosystem that’s out there where you are literally buying followers, buying influence and you’re buying the ability to make money”.
And what’s the deal with #savemyaccount2019?
As well as the confusion about what was behind all these accounts losing followers, social media users also began sharing this post from Instagram that warned it would be “deleting all inactive accounts”.
The post warned that accounts that don’t “post, like, or comment daily” would be included in the cull.
But an Instagram spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the photo is fake, despite more than 40,000 posts having been shared with the hashtag #savemyaccount2019.