This year’s batch of Love Island contestants are being followed by "huge numbers" of fake Instagram accounts, thus grossly inflating their perceived social media popularity, an investigation has revealed.
Takumi, the Instagram influencer marketing service, analysed the followers of all 17 contestants, whose follower numbers range from 30,000 to just under a million. It assessed the activity, engagement and profiles of the contestants' followers using artificial intelligence-powered analytics and machine learning.
Tommy Fury, the most-followed contestant, has 971,000, but well over half (60%) of those are fake, Takumi’s research found.
The contestants whose Instagram profiles have the highest concentration of fake followers are Amber Rose Gill and Jordan Hames, at 65% each.
Six of the accounts were reported by the investigation for suspicious activity, just weeks before the contestants were publicly announced. For example, the number of accounts following Anna Vakili's profile increased by 15,000 between February and March.
Meanwhile, Anton Danyluk would appear to be popular in India, Brazil and Mexico, given that these countries featured in the top five most common countries of audience origin among his followers. Bot farms are commonly located in these countries, Takumi added.
Contestants ranked by percentage of fake followers
- Amber Rose Gill (@amberrosegill) – 535k followers – 65% fake followers
- Jordan Hames (@jxrdanhames) – 34k followers – 65% fake
- Joe Garratt (@josephgarratt) – 412k followers – 64% fake
- Yewande Biala (@yewande_biala) – 365k followers – 64% fake
- Michael Griffiths (@mac_griffiths_) – 478k followers – 63% fake
- Callum McLeod (@callum_macleod) – 243k followers – 62% fake
- Tommy Fury (@tommytntfury) – 971k followers – 60% fake
- Danny Williams (@itsdannywilliams) – 101k followers – 59% fake
- Amy Hart (@amyhartxo) – 447k followers – 59% fake
- Elma Pazar (@elmapazar) – 68k followers – 58% fake
- Lucie Rose Donlan (@lucierosedonlan) – 857k followers – 56% fake
- Anna Vakili (@annavakili_) – 495k followers – 53% fake
- Molly Mae Hague (@mollymaehague) – 701k followers – 53% fake
- Anton Danyluk (@anton_danyluk) – 342k followers – 52% fake
- Curtis Pritchard (@curtispritchard12) – 588k followers – 52% fake
- Tom Walker (@tom9walker) – 29.9k followers – 50% fake
- Maura Higgins (@maurahiggins) – 322k followers – 45% fake
Love Island contestants can use Instagram to make money as influencers by posting content sponsored by brands.
Last year, the Facebook-owned platform pledged to start removing fake "likes" and comments from users who use third-party apps to boost their popularity.
That came a month after social media agency Social Chain reported that brands are being defrauded by up to 96% of what they spend with individual social media influencers.
Adam Williams, chief executive of Takumi, said: "The results of our research show the extent to which fraudulent activity can take place on Instagram. Yet influencers are still powerful marketing tools due to their ability to resonate deeply with their core audiences.
"Brands must carefully consider who they work with and how they assess their worth. The scale of someone’s social media following doesn’t necessarily equate to real influence among consumers."