You might be aware of those free apps which claim that it can track down stalkers, people who unfollow you and identify ghost followers.etc on Instagram. Well, here’s my personal experience that I had while using one of these apps.

A little backstory

So this happened in the year 2015. I was willing to learn Instagram marketing so I created an account. I wanted this account to be all about art and creativeness and thus, I started to post photos related to that. 

Now, it’s not a secret that it takes consistency, quality content, and correspondence with other people’s account to grow your Instagram so I tried to maintain a clear schedule of when I was going to post new content throughout the day and then follow, like and comment on the content of different accounts after that. 

However, I wasn’t quite able to follow that schedule accurately because I was in the 10th grade and believe it or not, it’s kind of a big deal here in India. I had to go to school, take extra classes, complete assignments on time and whatnot.

The Not-So-Bright-Idea

Now, to tackle this issue, I came up with an idea. I decided to automate the process of following, liking and commenting on the content posted by other people. I remember seeing an app which claimed to do just that in the App Store. 

I downloaded the app, it directly asked me to sign in with my Instagram ID. Without thinking much, I decided to give it a go and put my username, password in their respective fields. After hitting sign up, Instagram asked me to authorize this app and after that, I was in.

The app was fairly simple. First, it asked me to type in the hashtags which will determine what accounts will be followed automatically then the app would also like and comment on other people’s content. 

I was very excited to try this out and pressed the start button. Soon enough, it actually started to like and comment on random posts with those hashtags and I got a couple of followers within a span of 1 hour. I felt like a genius, a true influencer. 

At night, I checked my phone again. Apart from the increase in the number of followers and likes, I was getting much more engagement from various people on my posts. I was so happy that I rated the app 5 star in the App Store and went to sleep.

Uncovering the ugly truth

Fast forward to 1 week, I was solving some math problem and my phone buzzes. I check my phone and it was a DM from a lady. She wrote – “Why are you spamming my DM? Your account looks legit!”. 

I just stare at that message in confusion because it was the first time I am seeing this account and I did not even send her any DM. At this point, I was not sure what to do so I go back in the DM’s section and to my surprise, the conversation gets deleted automatically. 

I immediately noticed that something was not right and changed my password. I checked the “Posts you’ve liked” section and oh boy, it was filled with explicit content and other stuff. After inspecting my account activity over the last week, my account was sending automated spam messages to other people with a link to download their fraud app. 

Apart from that, somebody was also using my account to see explicit photos and videos. Not to mention the comments that were left behind by using my account.

Here’s what might have happened

My theory is that when I put my username and password in that app, it was first saved into their database and from there it went for to Instagram for authorization. 

Later, when the people got hands-on my account’s password, they logged in and started using it for marketing their own app by messaging other people on the platform. After messaging them, they would silently delete the conversation. 

Obviously, nobody bothered to reply to a spam message except that one lady.

How the password-stealing went down

Now, this situation could have been avoided completely if Instagram had two-factor authentication but that concept wasn’t implemented back then. 

If you haven’t turned on the two-factor authentication then it might be a good idea to turn it ON right away before something like this happens to your Instagram account. Phishing apps like these do still exist which steals passwords and use that for illegal purposes.

Read this article for more information on two-factor authentication and how to set it up on Instagram.

The takeaway

  • Only use trusted apps for your social media profiles.
  • You get what you pay for (I paid nothing, got nothing).
  • Always look at the reviews before using any services.
  • Turn ON two-factor authentication. It’s there for a reason.
  • Check your account activity once in a while.

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