What has happened?
Facebook and Instagram have filed a federal lawsuit against four Chinese companies and 3 individuals for promoting the sale of fake accounts, followers and likes on their platforms. In addition, violating cyber-squatting laws by operating websites from Facebook-branded domains.
It is asserted these companies have also sold fake accounts on other digital properties such as Amazon, Apple and Google.
The Media Store Take
Over 2 billion accounts were disabled by Facebook and Instagram last year. There is an ongoing need to police this kind of fraudulent activity on digital platforms, as it relates to both consumers and marketers.
The meteoric rise of micro and macro social influencers in recent years has seen engagement emerge as a new currency for marketers as brands struggle to maintain personalisation at scale. There are now over 1 billion monthly active Instagram accounts, and users are interacting with influencer sponsored content at rates much higher than standard business posts. However, influencers are only as valuable as the communities they maintain.
Fake accounts to boost follower numbers only serve to harm their cause, with 64% of marketers deeming influencer fraud a big concern in 2018*. Over 3 million posts using promotion based hashtags were published on Instagram alone last year. This is not likely to slow down soon with aspects of popular culture being shaped by their ‘Instagram-ability’.
These lawsuits are a positive step in normalising the belief that fraudulent digital activity will have consequences for companies and individuals alike.