Instagram, which has 1 billion users, has introduced new tools aimed at improving security and safety on the platform. The three changes are: more information about accounts with large followers, a form for the coveted ‘blue tick’ (verified) for accounts, and support for third-party authenticator apps. The updates were announced by co-founder and CTO Mike Krieger.

The updates follow the discovery of a web of political influence campaigns spread across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and across Google’s services; Google+, YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, as well as on Microsoft. The investigations by these platforms revealed that the activity was backed by Iranian actors. Facebook terminated 652 accounts on both Facebook and Instagram following a two-month investigation into sketchy accounts. Of the 652 accounts close to a 100 were Instagram one, with at least 58,000 followers for one of these accounts.

Instagram has made the following tool updates:

More information about popular accounts: Accounts with large audiences have to furnish information about themselves; date of joining, country location of the account, username changes in past one year, and ads that the account is running.

“Our community has told us that it’s important to them to have a deeper understanding of accounts that reach many people on Instagram, particularly when those accounts are sharing information related to current events, political or social causes,” said Krieger.

Accounts can now apply for the ‘Blue Tick’ verified badge: To ensure that an account belongs to real person, and that they can trust the content being put out, Instagram will roll out an application form by which users can authenticate their accounts — provided they meet Instagram’s criteria. Accounts must belong to a “well-known, highly searched for person/brand/entity” et al. Per Instagram, “Currently, only Instagram accounts that have a high likelihood of being impersonated have verified badges.”

Support for Third-party authenticator apps: Users will soon be able to log in through Last Pass or Google Authenticator – both third-party apps. Such apps are used to strengthen two-factor authentication, as opposed to text-based OTP second factor authentications which are vulnerable to sim-hijacking.

Fake/bot accounts

Its worth noting that a recent study found that 95 million users on Instagram could be bots posing as real accounts. Twitter recently pushed out 70 million accounts which it suspected to be fake or automated which had shown up in a lot of celebrities having fewer followers.

Instagram’s new features

  • Last month, Instagram introduced a ‘You’re All Caught Up’ feature that informed the user when they had caught up with everything that was posted on their feeds in the last 48 hours.
  • In June, Instagram released a Lite app for users with low handset storage and internet bandwidth.
  • In the same month, Instagram introduced group video calling and long form video.
  • Earlier in May, Instagram added the feature of making payments on its app, meaning users could now pay for products and services on the native app without leaving for another website or payment gateway.

Our Instagram coverage here.