How Instagram is Dealing With Automation Services

I just spent the last few hours reading through the research paper that was created by a facebook research team back in October 2018. It highlights and lays out various detecting measures along with blocking counter measures. I have seen this discussed in the comments, but I really believe it deserves a thread of its own. It does clear up a few things and I will outline them below.

if you haven’t read this, I highly recommend you do:

At the very least, read section 6, which outlines the strategy instagram can use to stop and block automation if need be.

Here are some critical points:

  1. Instagram is can easily detect botting via checking outbound actions, ie, likes, comments, follows whether you are using mobile proxies, data center proxies or just your home IP. They have baseline user data which shows how normal users behave and how many normal actions are taken. Anything above that threshold is flagged as potential automation and botting.

  2. Instagram recognizes that straight up bans would hurt the service, along with real people and their accounts. Instead of full on blocks and bans, they experimented with thresholds to minimize outbound actions such as follows and likes. And so there is definitely a threshold for number of actions. Also, straight up bans indicated, botting services would implement countermeasures which would make it harder to detect. This means, each time insta blocks a service for botting, or users, the botting agencies would implement new methods for botting and the cycle would continue. Hence, costing instagram a lot more money in R&D in the future. Something they would like to avoid.

  3. The strategy that seems to have been suggested to work is implementing a threshold, along with a delayed counter measure. So let’s say you followed 200 people on day 1, instead of temp blocking the follow action, instagram allows the follows to go through and a few days later removes those follows. To the software, it looks like it successfully followed 200 people, in reality it didn’t. This strategy takes much longer to detect, and harder for automation softwares to counter. The research paper indicates this as potential solution, although I’m not sure if its being utilized at the present moment.

Further Implications:

From my understanding, instagram is always testing and improving its detection softwares. As of now, according to the research paper its super easy for them to detect all accounts, irrespective of the proxy type used (mobile, DC, residential etc). Instagram is also intentionally blocking some and not all accounts.

Think of it as a control group vs a test group. If you’re in the control group, your actions do not change, you may perform 400 follows per day and you will not get blocked. However, if you’re in the test group, even 100 follows can get you banned or temp blocked.

The very idea that instagram knows all the accounts that are botting, (lets say 90%), and are not intentionally blocking these accounts leads to one interesting outcome.

The data gathered by MPsocial users would very different. I have seen so many discussions on what proxies are best, what settings are best, something working for one person, that does not work at all for another. This can entirely be due to if you’re account is in the test group or control group.

So the next time someone puts out recommendations for the best settings, or the best proxy, just be aware that if you’re in the test group, I doubt these measures would help.

I’d love to open this up for further discussion on what you guys think.


Thanks for taking the time to write this. I came across this paper a few months ago and read it 6+ times to really get the essence of it and agree with a lot of your points.

Given that the paper is almost a year old, while a lot of it is still accurate, there have certainly been some changes that are worth pointing out.

The biggest change is how “consumer-focused” their anti-botting efforts have become.

This is seen through the introduction of:

  • The introduction of lower thresholds allowed following activity (6000/30)
  • Smarter anti AAS action blocking efforts
  • The change password prompt that is shown at the top of the newsfeed (ignorable)
  • The locked Account Compromised/forced change password prompt (un-ignorable)
  • The 7-day total action block (follows, posts, comments, likes) which explicitly says you’ve been blocked for “sharing your account with a service that helps you get more likes or followers”

Obviously, the last deterrent is the scariest (to me at least), as someone who does client management, if these 7-day blocks remain persistent and they just continue to happen over and over again, clients will have no choice but to churn because they literally cannot use Instagram.

Frankly, and it’s been said too many times - but that doesn’t make it true, the AAS we use really need a step-function update to their systems so that we can operate in a way that resembles how we used to, without that these longer term, blocks and threatening messages will effectively kill automation.

The consideration of will the AAS’ be able to do this successfully, as described in the paper, is yet to be seen. So far it looks like they haven’t been able to work around these issues yet as it’s been a 2-3 months now.

Effective client management will only take us so far.


Right there with you on these points.

I think instagrams strategy is EXACTLY THIS. To not block accounts, but to disrupt client management through making it annoying and difficult for AAS managers.

How long will clients stay with us, if their accounts are being blocked every other day or week. Its an elegant way for instagram to kill botting. Instead of mass blocking accounts, and ruining the user experience for their customers, the threat of locked compromised accounts, multiple PV prompts, 7 day blocks is all that is required to end this game.

So long as instagram is measuring account activity of each account, I don’t see how any AAS software can get around this. The days of 600+ follows a day are over. All we can do is play nice with instagram and try to stay in our lane by following the thresholds they set.


Issue is, they won’t even let us do that. It’s straight luck if we can consistently make it to 200ish/day now.


I’m in the same boat.

I’ve resorted to doing 200-300 manuel follows on some accounts, just until I can find a better solution.

It’s perhaps possible to utilize some combination of proxies, and settings to get around this hurdle. And then just stay below the threshold.

The inconsistencies between accounts getting blocks and account working, along with the random 7 day blocks (for probably less than 2% of accounts) is maddening and kudos to them. Excellent strategy.


Finally a good read. Thanks for putting the time resuming it.