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Instagram makes teens and celebrities angry by killing millions of spambots

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Clean-up of fake accounts causes follower counts to drop overnight

A crackdown on spam Instagram accounts has triggered a cataclysm in the world of low-grade social media celebrities. The event, which began today after the photo-sharing service made good on its promise to start deleting millions of fake accounts, has been dubbed the "Instagram Rapture" after the follower counts of apparently popular Instagrammers were savaged. Rapper Tyga saw his followers drop from 5.5 million to 2.2 million, while Ma$e committed Instagram's version of seppuku, deleting his account after freefalling from 1.6 million followers to around 100,000.

Some users have revelled in the spam massacre, suggesting that those who have seen the biggest drops are guilty of having purchased fake followers to boost their numbers, while others have railed against the crackdown, begging Instagram to bring the spam accounts back to reinflate their follower counts. Instagram told Business Insider that the users it was removing were either already deactivated spam accounts, or violated the service's guidelines.

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Web developer Zach Allia has collated the figures into a handy graph, showing the number of followers Instagram's top 100 accounts lost in a single day. Major celebrities like Beyoncé had their follower counts dented in the cull — poor Justin Bieber's figure dropped by 3,538,228 — but the process hit some less well-known names harder. "Smack That" singer Akon shed some 56 percent of his followers in the space of a few hours, while Allia's figures show a user named chiragchirag78 who plummeted from more than 3 million followers to exactly eight. Chiragchirag78's Instagram account no longer exists.

Ironically, it was Instagram itself that lost the most followers in the "Rapture." The photo service, owned by Facebook, has lost almost a third of its followers, dropping 18 million users in a single day. The vast majority of the missing likely never existed, but given how vociferously users are venting their annoyance at losing their imaginary fans, it's safe to bet that real people are behind a good proportion of the unfollows.

Correction December 18th, 11:45PM ET: The Instagram account purportedly operated by Jersey Shore's Jenni "JWoww" Farley previously mentioned in this story is not Farley's official account.

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