Ever feel like someone you followed on Instagram was getting really insanely high numbers of likes out of nowhere? You may have been on to something. In the wake of similar crackdowns on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has announced that it will begin banning paid-for likes and followers in the coming weeks, in an effort to restore trust among the popular platform’s users and advertisers alike.
“Recently, we’ve seen accounts use third-party apps to artificially grow their audience,” the platform noted in a new release posted to its website. “People come to Instagram to have real experiences, including genuine interactions. It is our responsibility to ensure these experiences aren’t disrupted by inauthentic activity.”
Using a slew of new “machine learning tools” developed to help suss out the identities of “suspect” users, Instagram will begin removing inauthentic likes, follows, and comments from accounts believed to be employing third-party services to boost popularity and follower counts. While the new policy notes that old posts won’t be targeted retroactively, affected users might, in fact, wish otherwise: With the change, old posts will continue to show “purchased” likes and comments, but new ones will be necessarily lower in number. Needless to say . . . embarrassing.
Fake followers and likes have always been explicitly against Instagram’s terms and conditions, and the platform has long removed fake accounts, but today’s announcement marks the first time that it is making a big stand against fake activity, what the platform has now deemed “bad, unwelcome behavior.” Though fake followings have arguably helped Instagram to become a highly profitable platform, it seems, at least for today, that the moral issue at hand is more important.
This article first appeared on Vogue.com