We always knew there were fake accounts on Instagram, but we had no idea how many. That is until last night, when the Facebook-owned company deleted millions of bots in a move that sent Instagram fans scrambling for answers.
In an official response to The New York Times, Instagram claimed most of the deleted accounts were already deactivated. The company says it’s simply clearing up clutter, and promised that future purges will be more regular and less drastic.
“We totally get that it’s uncomfortable for people,” a spokesperson said. “The overall goal is we want it to be perceived that the people following you are real.”
Interestingly, the Instagram account that lost the most followers last night was Instagram’s, which dropped from 64,131,228 followers to 45,251,017 followers according to a list compiled by software developer Zach Allia. The rest of the list is mostly made up of celebrities, including Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian and Beyonce, along with brands like Nike, Forever 21 and the NBA.
Hot on the trails of those changes, this morning Instagram was valued at $35 billion by Citi analyst Mark May, up from a previous valuation of $19 billion and the $1 billion Facebook spent acquiring the company back in 2012. Instagram announced last week that it now serves over 300 million users, putting it ahead of Twitter.