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The cult of buying fake followers exposed by Instagram cull

As Instagram got rid of its spambots, some celebs saw alarming drops in follower figures

Yesterday, Instagram began the process of getting rid of all the spam accounts in its system, which has proved to be really embarrassing for all the people who bought a load of spambots to make themselves look more popular than they are.

Buying fake YouTube views, Facebook likes or Instagram followers has become something of an epidemic over the past few years. While it's undoubtedly "uncool", a lot of people do it in a bid to appear way more popular than they really are. This means that a lot of celebrities have been caught red-handed boosting their popularity with bots in what's being dubbed "The Instagram Rapture".

37-year old rapper Ma$e got caught with an awful lot of imaginary friends. He saw an alarming drop in followers, from 1.6 million to 100,000. Unable to confront the idea that everyone knew he'd bought them from a site like Buzzoid at a rate of $3 for 100 followers, Ma$e subsequently deleted his account. Tyga lost half of his followers, plummeting from 5.5 million to 2.2 million.

A developer called Zach Allia compiled an extremely handy graph to help us all understand just whose popularity was hit. There were incredible scenes at the top of the "percentage lost" table, where a user called @chiragchirag78 lost 99.998% of his followers, falling from a gargantuan 3,660,448 followers to a measly eight. The account no longer exists, but points to a worrying and expensive condition - addiction to buying Instagram followers.

Other big names hit by the cull include Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian. Dazed lost 25,000 followers, but I've been assured by the social media team that we didn't buy them. Most importantly I've been told that it's cool and we don't really care but we're also absolutely desperate for our mates back so please follow us here.

Of course, not all people who have lost followers parted money with them in the first place and it's actually Instagram itself that was the biggest loser - shedding nearly 19 million followers. While some of these losses will be accounted for by the eradication of spambots, some will certainly be disgruntled users frustrated by the exposé.