Confessions Of An Instagram 'Cheat'

Monday, 15 May 2017
Instagram bots, playing 'follow for follow' and false accusations - There's a lot kicking off in the blogging world right now regarding Instagram. It seems that alorgrithm changes and shadow bans were just the beginning of all the drama surrounding the app, as now bloggers and brands are being called out for using 'bots' to inorganically grow their following and buy likes. It's a shocking revelation that has thrown the blogosphere into chaos, but how would you react if you found out that your blogging bestie had been faking the likes on her #OOTD pics?

Please note: These stories are not my own. They are a collection of experiences which I have gathered from other bloggers for the purpose of this blog post. Stories have been paraphrased from the original quotes, and I will be keeping all the contributors anonymous unless they asked to be cited. These are the stories from real bloggers about their experiences of using bots, cheating likes and comments, and being wrongly accused of doing so.

"I put too much pressure on myself..."


"In my first few months of blogging, I used one of those apps which gives you likes and follows, in exchange for it auto liking/following other people. It all kind of boiled down to the fact when I started, I put so much pressure on myself to get big and big fast - it didn't help my overly supportive family were insisting I'd be the next Zoella. I thought the only way anyone would take me seriously was if it looked like I had this huge follower base, but within a few days, I realised the mistake I made as they weren't really people, they were bots that spammed me with generic and pointless comments. I realized I was actually fooling myself and all the confidence I'd built up by this huge follower number was actually false."

"I just wanted to be popular"


"When I was in school, I used apps where you earned 'coins' by liking random photos, and you used them to buy likes on your own pictures. I loved the idea that my account had more likes and followers than the 'popular' girls in my class, and so I became addicted to it, spending large chunks of my day spam-liking photos to earn more and more coins. Girls in the years below me would refer to me by my Instagram name around school, like I was some sort of celebrity. This was way before I became a blogger, so it was never to gain any endorsements or sponsorships, I just wanted to be popular at school."

"The whole blogosphere was against me" 

- The Kitty Luxe


"When I was falsely accused of using bots, I lost almost 100 followers on IG within the space of a few hours, and I felt like my own business, blog, even my name was being trashed and dragged through the mud. It really did affect me in ways that I don't like to admit. I cried, alot. I cried for about an hour. I also had a panic attack. I instantly thought my blogging career was over and the whole blogosphere was against me. All for just liking back on Instagram, and not discriminating on who I give those likes to."

"I felt like a fraud"


"I never used 'bots' themselves, but I felt like a fraud because I followed loads of accounts before I started my blog, so I gained loads of followers in return. It made me feel guilty because I had the most followers out of lots of new bloggers and felt I didn't deserve them. I never bought any followers, but in the end I made a new account and started using Instagram properly as I felt so uneasy."

"I had to pretend I was shocked"


When the scandal broke out, I had been using bots for around a year. I saw all the bigger bloggers being called out for the same thing I was doing, which was using bots to follow and unfollow random accounts in order to grow my following. I had to pretend like I was shocked by the revelations, whilst inside I felt really horrible and sneaky that I had got away with it and they hadn't. I'm still using the bots though, it's just too addicting to give up."


Understanding why others cheat the system is one thing, but being able to justify it is another. Being called out for the mistakes we make (or haven't made, in Holly's case) is an incredibly scary and isolating thing to happen to anyone.

At the start of this post, I told a little fib in saying these stories weren't my own. Mine was in fact the one about being popular in school. When the whole 'bot' scandal erupted, I was terrified that I would be called out for having fake followers on my account from over 4 years ago. I'm currently going through the lengthy process of removing all dodgy followers from my account (I'm nearly done!) and it feels amazing to see my engagement ratio increase, whilst knowing I'm doing the right thing.

Do you have a confession to make?
What's your opinion on the whole controversy?
20 comments on "Confessions Of An Instagram 'Cheat'"
  1. The one who's still doing it .... yeah seriously hope I'm not following her.

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    1. God I knew it was you, you bitch ;) and no I shouldn't think so! It's not a big account anyway xx

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  2. Seeing all the bot use is so frustrating for those of us who have worked hard for years to try build a following xx

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  3. I think its not about the amount of followers but the amount of traffic you generate. So no matter if people get robots to do the liking and get the following, because if they have 10,000 followers and only 100 likes and 2 comments, that's not a successful page.

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  4. Well that was seriously interesting I've been putting together a post about my interpretation of it all. Hands down I think it shouldn't be done in any shape or form but it's unfortunately going to carry on!

    Lucy

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  5. I've never used bots because they just seem dodgy. I tried it back in 2014, and to be honest, that experience made me more cautious about what I was doing in order to gain those followers. I can spot a scam from a mile away, and I can tell if people buy followers/likes. Is this what social media has become? Are we more interested about numbers instead of posting whatever the hell we want and not caring if anyone likes it or not?

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  6. I can totally understand why some people would use bots to up their IG game. The blog world is well, amazing and fucking brutal in its own way. It's like high school, you want to be popular, you want to feel like you belong, you want to be part of the group & even though using bots is such a wrong method to do so, I can understand the high pressure from surroundings each blogger meets every day, so it's tempting & so easy to take a short cut.

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  7. It's a very bad idea. I work for a large pr and marketing agency and believe me we can spot dodgy practices a mile off, whether bots, spam SEO, or plagiarism.

    In fact on more than one occasion I've had bloggers follow me to get a follow and then immediately unfollow me. Clearly not reading what I do. The result is that they end up being flagged for investigation and are unlikely to get work from us if we identify fake followers.

    Keep it clean and you'll be rewarded

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  8. Such an interesting post, Luckily i can say I've never used bots or faked my way to where i am , and its sad that people feel they have too!

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  9. It's very intriguing. I can see why people do it but also it's kind of hopeless as all the bots that you get following you would never go and look at your blog or interact or become friends with you, so surely it would be kind of hollow and meaningless? Again, I can see why people do it though. I guess I just don't care enough, but I reckon I would have maybe 10 years ago in my teens.

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  10. Great post! I know it can be a bit of a kick in the teeth when you work hard to gain followers and others are just purchasing it. But I mostly feel kinda ambivalent to the whole thing. Live and let live, I say.
    theemeralddove21.blogspot.co.uk

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  11. Buying fake likes and followers is something what I called the "fake easy road" just to give a false impression to other people. I rather gain real followers than bots.

    Michelle|www.brokebutflawless.blogspot.com

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  12. My heart goes out to Holly. I'm shocked that so many people would not only listen to the accusation that she was accused of buying bots, but would actively go and unfollow her on Instagram without looking into whether there was any basis for the accusation and listening to what Holly had to say on the matter. Have bloggers really built up something so powerful that we can say anything and it be believed without question and then acted on? I think this just shows how careful we need to be about what we as bloggers say. If bloggers can have this affect by saying some thing negative and untrue, imagine the impact we as a group could have if we spoke out in a positive way about an important issue rather than calling people out for something they haven't done. Xx

    Tania | When Tania Talks

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  13. This is all very eye opening. I've been on IG for less than a year total but I love it. I've always wondered how so many people have so many followers.

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  14. This is very interesting. Thank you for sharing. For someone who is just starting out it is very insightful as I didn't realize this was a thing.

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  15. These are so eye opening !! The temptation of easy follows and likes is always there!

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  16. Interesting to hear the reasons behind why people feel the need to scam the system. It all boils down to getting comfortable with where you are and who you are.

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  17. The best way to grow your community on Instagram is by having a nice and creative content, more than just selfies, following people that inspire you and follow you, creating a real community. You can buy followers and likes but you can't make people really liked them.

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  18. There's so much scrutiny and judgement in the blogosphere and that can drive people to desperate measures! Likes and follows aren't where it's at, it's quality .
    Katja
    www.katnapped.com

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  19. I never knew that you can do something like that. I do not use Instagram for my blog but once I got 600 followers on my Twitter account and in a week they all disappeared and then is when I started to find out information like this one.

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Every single comment means so much to me, thanks for making me smile! :)

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