Nearly 40% of all Instagram influencers in India were defrauded by software providers offering them tools to boost their follower count and engagement on the platform. A study by HypeAuditor, a platform for influencer vetting and performance tracking, found that 64% of all influencers with more than 1 million followers were defrauded through these fake software services. In an unpublished reported, titled "State of Instagram Fraud in India", HypeAuditor said that influencers use software tools and hire social media marketing (SMM) panels because they are promised real followers and organic activity on their account. There are various tools vailable to content creators online, some of which boost the users' profile and followers called 'follower growth', or 'comment pods' which increases the number of comments on a post to spike engagement. Some of these tools also offer influencers to "refill" their follower count, in case they lose their account or network size. According to the report, these content-engagement tools are mostly bots pretending to be real comments and real followers."They (bots) are later deleted by Instagram, or the SMM Panel gives them the command to unsubscribe from the current account and subscribe to another account," it said. Indians have turned to social media platforms to either amplify their SOS messages seeking help in the last few months as the second wave of the pandemic creeped across the country. MediaNama reported that some Instagram influencers were being paid to amplify messages for a plasma portal run by the Indian Influencer Network (IIN),…
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