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Monday, 17 April 2017

Instagram Fraud & A Perspective On Life

I wasn't going to write this blog post as quite frankly, I want to sit in a corner with my Easter eggs, but as I always say with blogging, sometimes these personal post ideas come to our mind and we've gotta tackle them. Over the last 24 hours, things have happened and these thing have made me want to speak out and talk about an issue. That's the joy of blogging isn't it? We are able to say what we think on our channels. I'm a big believer of supporting people, doing good and giving good back in return. If I'm honest though, the thing that bothers me most is what people say when people do speak up about issues in social media: 'you've got too much time on your hands' 'you're moaning' 'you're bitching' 'you need to put life into perspective'. I just want to start by saying, in November my life was put into perspective in a way I could never have imagined. As most of you will know by now if you follow me on Twitter or watch my weekly vlogs, in November my closest family member, and best friend, was knocked down with a disgusting, debilitating chronic illness. Not just one, but a few illnesses which will change his life forever (read more about this here). These are real issues that have changed all our lives forever and will continue to do so. On top of this, I have been the victim of domestic abuse throughout my whole life and witnessed things people never should have to witness. To judge someone via social media and say they need to use their energy on something else etc, is just not okay. This is why recently, I've been trying to use my voice to talk about genuine issues too, as well as wanderlust locations, pretty outfits and so on. But, remember, I know life is about way more than that. I have been using most of my energy raising money for my chronic illnesses recently so just had to get that in there. I'd trade every single thing I have to make my family okay. Anyway. Back onto the current issue, for a few weeks now, trouble has been 'brewing' in the blogosphere, I rarely get involved and rarely care, but when peoples honesty and integrity comes into play. It's something I had to discuss.


It feels like when you speak out about social media, you get a lot of stick, like the time I moaned about getting my hair ruined on a vlog and was told I'm a bad person because there are real issues going on in the world: Lol, I know, seriously, but everyone is allowed to have a little moan sometimes. Please never judge someone by social media, you do not know what is truly going on in their lives, behind the seemingly perfect Instagram. 

Let's start this where it all began: Many people have been talking about people in the industry having fake followers. Oh and don't get me wrong, as stated, I know there is so much more going on in the world that we could use our energy on. Trust me, I'm more than aware and have spent most of my Easter weekend trying to raise awareness for male suicide rates. I'm actually working on a plan at the moment to raise £5 million as that's how much a scientist currently needs per year to try find a cure for a certain chronic illness. More on that when I've figured out how. However, when it is your job (blogging is my job) and you see people getting amazing opportunities and jobs, based on a fake or cheated following, that's not fair at all. Fair play, it's absolutely nothing in relation to 'real' issues in the world, but, it is still an issue and one that isn't fair.

Lots of people are doing it. Lots of people are joining in and it's rubbish. After seeing a number of tweets discussing it, I decided to do a Snapchat yesterday (no name shaming, calling, bullying etc, literally just a way for people to see if anyone on their feed is using bots) talking about how best to figure out if people are doing it. I didn't want to personally name any names online, so instead, I just shared a way I was taught to find out if anyone's got fake followers. Here's how to apparently spot if someones using a bot account (please note, someone else told me about this): 

Go onto the activity feed (the little heart next to the add photo option) -> following -> then go onto the activity feed and see if there's any suspicious activity. Are some people liking genuinely dodgy photos? (I'm not talking about a photo of a sunset) but pornographic images, images of foreign men (unless that person likes foreign men, who am I to judge). I shared some of these images on my Snapchat as an example but we're talking really dodgy images. I've been told that what happens is a person pays a bot (robot) to automatically like certain photos, whether it's your photos, my photos, your Mums photos, but sometimes, that bot slips up and will like a really dodgy photo and the, you catch them out. I saw an interesting tweet this morning saying that people are trying to be 'inspectors' and assuming people have bots just down to the photos they're liking, but obviously if someones liking dodgy porn and really weird photos (again, to reiterate, we're not talking about normal photos here, they're dodgy) and usually, it'll be at 4am, I mean, there's something to be suspicious about. They'll be following people too, usually it'll come up on the activity feed and they'll follow a few people an hour but they'll be dodgy, fake, foreign profiles which are private. These accounts will also often like all your photos but not follow you. Unless they're doing it manually, it appears these people may well have a bot on their account. So how does this grow their following? It's following people and then unfollowing if they don't follow back and it's tricking these people into thinking they're liking their image, so that person then likes their images back. I'm not really fussed about that part, I just don't like that they're essentially cheating engagement. If someones doing it though, it's pretty obvious, it's certainly not a photo of a random sunset. 

Another apparent way to spot if someones got fake followers is Social Blade, personally, I have seen a lot of people misinterpreting the data on there this morning which is BEYOND dangerous which is why I have just stuck to looking for dodgy account activity. Someone accidentally mentioned the name of one of the best bloggers out there on it (which has since been removed) however, if you go on SocialBlade and notice someone has a graph which is like a rollercoaster, or they unfollowed 1000 people one day then unfollowed 800 the next, something is a little fishy isn't it? Maybe they need a bot to unfollow those people for them. I don't know, you tell me. What we should not do, is look at a genuine bloggers social blade, see their spikes and think they've bought it. It could ruin their reputation. It's not cool. Some bloggers are killing it and genuinely are gaining 2k+ followers a day, or, if a huge account like ASOS reposts them for example, maybe they gained 10k that day, it doesn't mean they've bought them. My social blade will probably show that I'll unfollow maybe a few people a month and follow a few too, that's totally normal. Some days I'll gain 200 followers, some days I'll gain 50, that's normal. Following people is normal, unfollowing people is normal, but following and unfollowing 1000 people a night is not normal. 

So where do we go from here? The thing that riled me the most about this is seeing people call this moaning, bitching or an unnecessary waste of energy: I adore this industry and want to protect it. More to the point, why aren't you talking about how wrong this is?! I want hard working, genuine, passionate people to get fabulous opportunities, not people who've cheated their way to the top. Of course people are entitled to be upset about people getting awesome opportunities and a lot of money when they've grown their following in a little bit of a shady way. It's difficult when so many of us have worked our butts off for years to get to where we are. We are also in such an amazing position where brands trust us, want to work with us and we have a great impact when it comes to campaigns etc, so please don't ever ruin the credibility our industry has worked so hard to protect and build up. Credibility and honesty is key. 

Remember, there really is no elevator to the top, you gotta start at the bottom and work your way up. I really do not ever want anyone to question the credibility of our fabulous industry. Blogging is an amazing way to get messages across, to share passions and to bring communities together. I have seen amazing work being done through bloggers when it comes to topics such as mental health, feminism and racism to name a few. It makes me so proud to be a blogger and see these people using their voices. I'm all about positivity but if something is wrong in the world, it's totally okay to talk about it, it doesn't make you a bad person. 

Let's not ever undo the positives of this community by a few people who are trying to cheat their way up. Hopefully, these people will simply realise it's wrong, apologise and then all will be well and good. *Side note, do not start a witch hunt, or making a 'bloggers' burn book, this is not 1993 Mean Girls.  These people know what they've done and are probably ashamed and very embarrassed deep down and hopefully will come clean, apologise and hold their hands up. I don't want to see nastiness, meanness etc. I'm not about that. These people will 'hang' themselves eventually, as I've just seen on Twitter, someone said: fakers will eventually burn out, let these people burn themselves out. Eventually, cheats will always be found out. Do not fear. Life has a funny way of dealing with these people. 

I've been blogging for almost 4 years. I had an Instagram account years ago and didn't even know you could gain followers on it, I thought it was just a photo editing app at first! The algorithm is really difficult, somedays I'll gain great followers, other days I wont, some days my photos are going out to all my feed and other days, they're not being seen by everyone. It's sad and annoying but it is what it is. Put amazing content out, love what you're doing and engage with the people who are loving your stuff and commenting on it. If you see something you love on your feed like it, comment on it. Tell that person, you may just make their day. Be nice, work hard and good things will come your way.

*Just to reiterate, I haven't outed anyone, I've simply shed some light on what is going on.

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Lots of love, Em x

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