We all love it when we get new followers on social media. But how far are we willing to go to get those followers? As it turns out, a great many of us are willing to give away highly secretive information. Just ask the people who downloaded an app called IstLike.
The app claimed to be able to get you likes and followers on Instagram just by inserting your username and password. More than 100,000 people fell for it. The app asks for your username and password right after downloading it, then it turns you into a willing participant for a giant social botnet.
Security firm Symantec estimates that at least 100,000 users fell for the scam. The app was able to add likes and followers by using real accounts. After users signed up for the app, IstLike would start liking random photos and following random users. The app convinced people to gain extra likes, and allocated 20 free coins per day for users. One like would cost you one coin, and one follower would cost 10 coins and after these 20 daily coins, a user would have to buy more with real money. The minimum purchase of 100 coins would set you back just $1, and if you referred another user to IstLike, you received 50 free coins, encouraging users to recruit new players.
Instagram trying to clean up its act
The chaos caused by the app comes against a background of Instagram trying to clean up its follower counts.
Earlier this year, Instagram started deleting millions of fake accounts, causing people’s follower counts to drop dramatically. For example an account by the name of miyoungnews lost over 100,000 followers in just a few days. Celebrities were most affected by this, as Justin Bieber’s account dropped by 3.5 million, and Kim Kardashian lost about 1.3 million followers.
Zach Allia, a developer for Instagram, created an infographic that explains the damages incurred on Instagram’s 100 most popular accounts. Fake accounts like this one and several other fake apps were deleted from Android Google Play store. However the IstLike website is still functioning. Victims of the scam are being encouraged to change their Instagram passwords.