Scroll through the comment section of any popular Instagram account, and what will you see? Plenty of doting fans leaving words of praise and encouragement, a handful of criticisms (with long response threads) and, more often than not, comments from pornbots.
Pornbots are the scourge of Instagram — though you’ll find them on any social media platform. New spam accounts pop up daily with promises of explicit content and free pornography, enticing people to click on dodgy links that’ll inevitably lead to a scam or virus.
We’ve become so used to seeing pornbots in our feeds that it can be easy to overlook them when considering social media moderation for your company’s accounts. Compared to the toxic and hateful messages that often plague company comment sections, propositions from pornbots can seem relatively harmless.
However, the presence of pornbots can be incredibly damaging to your brand, breaking the trust between you and your audience and discouraging loyal customers from positively engaging with your content.
So, how can Arwen’s comment moderation tool help get to the root of the problem?
Even if you’ve never heard the term ‘pornbot’, you’ve likely come across one.
These fake accounts are created with the sole purpose of inviting followers (usually men) of legitimate accounts to follow a link to a porn site. They’re typically private accounts that use stolen pictures of young women to attract attention, with bios that promote ‘adult only’ content for people ‘looking for fun’.
You may be thinking, what’s in it for them?
Believe it or not, pornbot spammers don’t even have to get you to sign up for anything to make money from their victims. Some pornography sites even pay users to set up accounts to simply get a click-through to their page, allowing the scammer to profit from affiliate links.
Of course, some pornbots will also try to extract personal data and log-in information through illegitimate requests and sign-up pages, leading to stressful financial implications for their unfortunate targets. And although these scams are usually directed at over-18s, there’s usually nothing to stop younger teens — Instagram’s largest audience — from falling foul of these tactics.
Given the ease of creating an account and the sheer scale of Instagram’s platform, it’s no surprise that these profiles are rapidly proliferating. Nearly one in 10 Instagram accounts are fake, and experts estimate that as many as 40% of all social network accounts are used for spam — many of which are so-called pornbots.
Some are run by real people, whereas some are generated by internet bots — software applications that run automated, pre-defined tasks online, usually to imitate a real person for material gain.
So, what can business owners and social media managers do to prevent these accounts from dominating their comment sections?
Despite social media platforms’ strict ‘no nudity’ policies and community guidelines, they do little to censor these accounts. So, it often falls to organisations’ internal social media teams to manually filter out pornbots from their pages.
Pornbots are particularly rife within profiles with a large male following, such as football teams, Formula 1 drivers and other public figures. However, they can crop up anywhere — so it’s essential to have a strategy to stop them.
Identifying inappropriate messages using traditional content filtering tools can be tricky, and pornbots are deploying increasingly sophisticated methods to avoid detection. From using emojis and videos to clever commenting tactics, identifying and moderating this content is becoming a challenge many businesses can’t handle alone.
Journalist Maddy Mussen spent some time masquerading as a pornbot to see just how easy it is to carry out a pornbot campaign. She spoke to our Product and Service Director, Joel Bailey, about how Arwen’s comment moderation solution has evolved to tackle the pervasive pornbot problem for companies from various industries.
‘The way to prevent the risk of a pornbot pile-on and minimise the number of people clicking on something they shouldn’t is to remove the comment as quickly as possible’, he explained.
Our bespoke content moderation software is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and is specially designed to catch unwanted content in under a second — before your audience can see it. Arwen has removed 93% of pornbots on our customers’ accounts, protecting followers from scams and boosting confidence to foster healthier online communities.