Inside Instagram’s New Plan to Improve Security Amid Bots, Fake Followers, and Other Bad Actors
Facebook often finds itself as the target these days when it comes to problems with security and privacy on social media. But the company’s popular subsidiary, Instagram, is increasingly feeling the heat among a deluge of bots, fake accounts (and followers), and propaganda flooding the photo sharing app.
Instagram unveiled a new, three-part plan on Tuesday that the social media brand says will improve safety across the platform for its more than one billion users worldwide and counting.
“We know we have more work to do to keep bad actors off Instagram, and we are committed to continuing to build more tools to do just that,” wrote Instagram co-founder and chief technology officer Mike Krieger, in a blog post on Tuesday.
The first two prongs of the plan hover around providing a lot more crucial information up front to users.
First, account profiles will be updated to display the date the account joined Instagram, the country where the account is located, accounts with shared followers, any username changes in the last year, and any ads the account is currently running. Accounts with substantial followings will be able to review their account information starting in September. All of this will be filed under a section called “About This Account,” which will roll out publicly in the fall.
“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,” Krieger explained.
Similar to noting the date when the user joined Instagram, the social media app’s latest updates hint at another influence from Twitter: more blue verified checkmarks next to user handles.
The second part of the plan includes ramping up the number of verified accounts for public figures, celebrities, and global brands. To access the verification request form, applicants head to their profiles, tap the menu icon, select “Settings” at the bottom and then choose “Request Verification.” Along with the account username, applicants will need to provide full real names and a copy of legal or business identification.
Finally, the heavy security comes in the form of more two-factor authentication support with more options for third-party authenticator apps, such as DUO Mobile and Google Authenticator, to log into Instagram.
Two-factor authentication has become a default way of life in cybersecurity in the last few years, available (and usually required by IT departments) for anything from WordPress to Google Apps. In a day and age when any Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram profile could be targeted by hackers, heightened personal account security is a must. For an informative but quick guide to two-factor authentication, or “2FA”, check out Fortune‘s online explainer and video.)
Support for third-party authenticator apps will be available in the coming weeks.