Instagram is an excellent platform where you can instantly share your photos, videos, and stories around the world. A good thing about Instagram is that you can follow people you are interested in to see what they share online, and people can follow you back. Moreover, you can meet and connect with others through the platform by sending them a direct message or commenting on their posts.
Gaining new Instagram followers and mutuals is fantastic. However, there are many instances in which you need to be very vigilant when someone tries to connect with you. As some people have unfortunately discovered, many user profiles nowadays are fake. These fake accounts are often used to catfish, scam, flirt with and exploit you of your own profile. Regardless of the reason, users should be wary of accounts that seem suspicious. But how can you tell if an Instagram account is fake?
In this article, we’ll show you the most common signs you should watch out for to detect whether an Instagram account is fake.
How to Tell if an Instagram Account Is Fake
Fake Instagram accounts are an alarming concern, but there are a number of ways you can tell real from fake. So, the next time someone tries to connect with you on Instagram in an attempt to secure a first date, verify first if their account is fake or not by checking the following:
Check if the account has no profile picture or is using a stock photo
This is your first red flag when identifying a fake Instagram account. Since Instagram was developed as a social platform, it’s quite suspicious when someone wants to remain anonymous by not adding a profile picture or by using a stock photo. After all, if you don't want people to see you on Instagram, why even open an account?
Of course, there’s a chance that it could be just one of your relatives or friends who is new to Instagram. If the account is using the name of someone close to you, the best thing you can do at this point is to verify if the account actually belongs to them. Stay cautious and ask around before accepting.
Check the account’s bio
Aside from the profile picture, try to view the bio of the suspicious account. Some users who create fake Instagram accounts don't really think much about what to include in their bio. They often leave this out, or they might type in any generic or vague information that sometimes doesn't even match the overall profile.
The account is inactive or doesn’t have any posts
If a stranger messages you on Instagram or tries to follow you, you should visit the account profile and see how many posts it has. If an Instagram account does not have any posts, there's a possibility that it is fake. This account was probably only created to stalk someone or do other questionable things on the platform.
Check the number of followers and following
You can also tell if an Instagram account is fake by examining its number of followers and following. An account that has a lot of followers but is only following a few people could be a bot. If you’re not aware yet, a bot is an autonomous program developed to do a variety of automated tasks.
While not all bots are programmed to function in a harmful way, you should still be very careful as you don’t know what they can do to your account. Don’t hesitate to report the account if you find it violating Instagram’s rules.
Why Do People Make Fake Instagram Accounts?
There are two main reasons why people make fake Instagram accounts. The first, relatively harmless reason, is to create an image of themselves that's more exciting, appealing, or successful than their reality. But other reasons include using fake accounts for scamming purposes.
Before we go into detail on how to spot if an Instagram account is fake, let's go over some of the most common reasons why people make fake accounts.
Catfishing and making a false identity
One main reason people create fake Instagram accounts is catfishing. This is where they build up a false profile just to deceive others online, often to initiate romantic relationships before eventually exploiting that relationship to get money. A catfisher will use a phony name, someone else's photos, and stories in order to entice another person into dating them.
Here are other reasons why people make fake Instagram accounts.
Building a more attractive identity
Some create fake Instagram accounts to present a false image of themselves online. They want people to see them as more interesting, attractive, or successful than they actually are. Someone who feels insecure about their appearance may create a fake account with a more pleasing profile to talk to people online and attract potential partners.
This includes people who edit their faces and bodies to make them look more attractive. They may also Photoshop themselves onto famous backgrounds and scenic places to give the impression that they travel a lot, if not straight up download and post stock images to give the appearance of a luxurious lifestyle.
Below is an example of a fake Instagram account. Instagram deleted the user because the profile picture actually belonged to another. The real Instagram user is a model, and she's just one of many models who have had their pictures stolen.
To initiate a new relationship
Some people create fake Instagram accounts to hide their identities, especially if they are already in a relationship and want to engage in online flirting without their partner knowing.
Creating a fake account means higher chances of avoiding the scrutiny of family and friends who may be against this behavior.
To boost followers
Boosting your online presence and popularity on Instagram can actually be profitable. Many businesses have started partnering up with social media influencers to promote their products and brands to their followers. Therefore, the more followers you have, the higher your chances of earning.
An absurd but effective strategy to gain more followers is to create multiple fake Instagram accounts and use them to like and follow one main account. In this way, the main account would appear more popular and legitimate, resulting in more users getting attracted to them.
Bullying and harassing other people
People often create fake Instagram accounts to maintain their anonymity and privacy. They want to hide their real identity and not be associated with the content they are posting. Using fake accounts means they can post whatever they want, even to the point of harassing other users.
In fact, many people create fake Instagram accounts for the sole purpose of stalking and cyberbullying others. The anonymity grants these internet "trolls" the power to destroy another person while hiding behind their screens.
To spam or scam other people
The popularity of Instagram has also led to a rise in scammers and cybercriminals creating fake Instagram accounts. These people use the platform to send spam messages to other Instagram users or trick them into giving away their money or valuable information.
Take the screenshot below as an example. Despite the number of followers and following, the user doesn't have any posts and the profile photo was taken straight from the web. Thanks to a report, Instagram deleted this account for using a stock photo.
How to Report A Fake Instagram Account
Fake Instagram accounts can be very disturbing, especially when they are deliberately targeting your profile. Fortunately, Instagram allows you to report these annoying accounts easily. If you suspect that a fake account is causing you harm, or trying to, you can do the following steps to report it:
- On your Instagram app, visit the profile of the suspicious account. You can do this by clicking their username from their Feed or manually searching their username.
- From here, click the three dots right next to their username. Doing so will display a list of commands.
- Finally, choose Report and select the account type you wish to report.
- Afterward, follow the on-screen instructions to report the account.
Fake accounts are a growing concern on Instagram, and the most common reason for creating these accounts is for dating and relationships. Most of the time, the creators of these accounts want to hide their real identity or present a false image to catfish or deceive other users.
Thankfully, by investigating further into the profile of a suspicious user, you can spot whether or not their account is fake. You can look at its profile picture, bio, and activities, as well as its number of followers and following. Use the tips outlined in this article to spot a fake Instagram account easily. Being vigilant and knowing how to identify fake accounts will help you have a positive Instagram experience.