ProPublica, a nonprofit news service, investigates abuses of power. In August 2022, it released an article revealing a million-dollar scheme to sell account verifications.
Read another post with your pop-corn on my blog with reviews of Affiliate Programs and CPA Networks and articles about paid traffic arbitrage.
WHY USERS WNAT VERIFICATION ON INSTAGRAM
To develop a personal brand.
Businessmen, bloggers, socialites, models and others develop a personal brand to make money on social media and find clients and contracts.
Be safe from imposters
There are accounts that impersonate the profiles of stars, bloggers, celebrities. They can conduct fraudulent pranks, sell non-existent goods and services, or purposely besmirch the reputation of the person they pretend to be.
For many, the blue tick is a status symbol, a sought-after, popular status that one wants to gain.
A famous person may request a blue tick from Instagram to verify that this account is official and really belongs to him.
Confirmation that this is the real account of actress Florence Pugh
HOW TO GET VERIFIED ON INSTAGRAM
Getting the check mark is difficult. The account must be:
- Authentic – represent a real person or registered company;
- Unique – only one account can be verified for one known character or company, except for profiles in different languages;
- Complete – must be active, publicly available, with real information and profile picture;
- In-demand – should represent a well-known person, brand, or organization that people are often looking for. And mentions in paid articles and advertisements are not counted.
Those who can’t provide justification for verification, but really want a tick, look for workarounds.
ProPublica uncovered a whole scheme to sell the verification service. The service was sold by DJ and crypto-entrepreneur Dillon Shamoun and Adam Quinn, who did the online promotion. The cost per account was about $1,500, and customers paid from $25,000. Adam brought in clients for a commission.
ONCE A SURGEON, NOW A DJ
Let’s break down the example of Martin Jugenburg’s profile. In real life, he is a plastic surgeon from Toronto who promotes his work on Instagram, and on the Internet, he is DJ Dr. 6ix, a DJ and house music producer known for his “innate ability to write unique music.”
DJ Dr. 6ix on Spotify, screenshot by ProPublica
- Profiles on the music platforms Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer;
- Five tracks consisting of simple looped beats or silences;
- purchased airplay on music platforms – for example, a song from silence had a 60,000 listens counter on Spotify to make the musician’s activity look convincing;
- Many purchased media articles praising his musical talent and talking about his past popularity;
- A verified Instagram account.
Publications about DJ, ProPublica screenshot
Scheme organizers sent out almost identical text of publications about their different clients and reused tracks to save time and get ticked off in 30-45 days.
HOW TO CHEAT META AND GET YOUR ACCOUNT VERIFIED
Here’s how the scheme worked:
- The client was asked to take lots of pictures where he would look like an art-related influencer. Many posed in front of cars, in designer clothes, in a recording studio.
- The team orders articles and music for the client. Bits and placements can be purchased.
- Tracks are uploaded to Spotify, Apple Music and other platforms.
- Clients start posting posts to Instagram.
- Performers buy likes and comments on posts with music content.
- Google indexed articles and music profiles, and used them to create a knowledge panel for the musician.
- Meta approved the application for verification.
Instagram employees, who are supposed to verify identities before verification, analyze comments and mass influxes of likes, were either failing or inattentive.
Also – recommend you – read All about Instagram content algorithm 2022
Google said the search engine was not responsible for determining the legitimacy of the performers. People had Spotify and Apple profiles, appeared in publications, and therefore met the criteria for the knowledge panel as musicians.
We don’t advise trying to cheat the algorithms. Now all profiles of DJ Dr. 6ix and other clients were deleted. Organizers’ accounts too, Meta has banned them from all their platforms.
Online influence matters a lot in the world, and it’s expected that people have figured out how to make it look like it does. In reality, such influence is bogus. In addition, schemes to cheat algorithms are to manipulate output results and mislead users.