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Instagram’s removal of snap happy hackers hits retailers

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Slumber, Crema, Ludwig, Aden and Perpetua are the latest filters to be added to Instagram, the online social network where even the most unskilled photographers can rival Annie Leibovitz.

The social network that is owned by Facebook has now topped Twitter, with 300m monthly users announced on its website this month. According to Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of the visual storytelling site, one of its appeals is its wide audience, “everyone from celebrities, newsrooms and brands, to teens, musicians and people with a creative passion”, allowing users to connect through pictures.

Though the company has become the most popular way for individuals to connect, it is also becoming a fundamental part of retailer’s success. With this in mind, Instagram also announced that fake accounts will be deleted this month, stating on its website, “We’re in the process of fixing an issue that incorrectly includes inactive or fake accounts in follower/following lists. We want to maintain the best possible experience on Instagram”. Kevin Systrom then went on to add that some people may notice their number of followers decrease.

The changes hit retailers such as Nike and Adidas the most, with Nike losing 257,000 followers and Adidas losing 101,000, with a new count of 3.6m. Other retailers who have been knocked back with losses are Victoria’s Secret and Forever 21, which lost 215,000 and 245,000 followers.

The setbacks have led many to question whether individuals or companies have been buying followers in what the BBC reported as the “Instagram rapture”. It stated that individually Justin Bieber had lost 3,538,228 followers, while online marketing specialist Wellington Campos was the company that lost the most, with 3,284,304 of its followers ceasing to exist overnight.

The plan to fix fake accounts started back in April 2014, with December 2014 expected to make an impact on the remaining members. Though the crack down comes as an initial blow to many Instagram users, companies will now be able to identify who their genuine customers are as more and more retailers use Instagram to promote their products.

Instagram informed its Twitter followers on December 18th that, “Your follower accounts are now correct”, deleting fake accounts for good and providing verified badges for celebrities, athletes and brands, “ making it easier for you to connect with the authentic accounts you’re looking for”. With a move from 200m followers to 300m in just nine months, including the removal of hackers and fake accounts, Instagram is intent on improving its network and expanding further. The move will urge retailers to connect more closely with legitimate customers and to share ‘real moments’ with their followers.

Published on Tuesday 23 December by Rachel Gee

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