Instagram is a great way to connect with your friends and the world at the same time. It allows you to follow your favorite celebs more personally. Especially, when you compare it to Facebook and Twitter, it’s a livelier space. Plus, Instagram has a more convenient design and fresher memes than Facebook.
Yet, similar problems plague both social media apps. Issues like fake and multiple accounts are extremely common. And doxxing and spamming irk Facebook and Instagram users alike. But we're not here to talk about the problems. You already know some of them if you’ve read our article on How to Avoid Getting Doxxed on Instagram.
We're here with an all-in-one solution to transform your Instagram life. So welcome to the class 'Being Insta-savvy 101' and let’s get started.
You’ve probably heard of the phrase ‘Like attracts like’. Well, it applies to friendships and relationships as well. You’ve probably experienced it yourself. You’re more likely to befriend or even like people who know or are friends with your friends. Social media shows these people as ‘mutual friends’.
Checking mutuals on Instagram may seem like a mundane task. You might say that it’s lazy advice. Hey, it's not lazy if it works! Rest assured, you can improve your privacy by a hundred percent by doing it. And if you are an influencer or someone with a handsome following, it might just be absolutely vital!
What is a mutual on Instagram?
A mutual means a person you and one or more of your friends both follow on Instagram. It is the same on Facebook. When you receive a follow request from an account with mutual followers, they have likely reached out seeing the same.
Why do you need to check for Instagram Mutuals?
Suppose you get a new follow request on Instagram. You will probably view the profile and see if the person seems familiar. If they seem familiar, you will most likely end up accepting the follow request. Let us argue for a finer approach. How about you head over to the profile and view their following? A person’s followers tell you a lot about them, especially on social media.
You can learn if the person has a real following or has he bought fake followers. You can even tell if the requesting account is real or fake by paying attention. Look for cues like the time of the posts and their consistency. See if their posts have been engaged with.
More importantly, see if the account has followers mutual with you. It is highly unlikely in today’s day and age that someone has zero mutual friends, especially online. So if the account has zero mutuals, it is probably fake and mass-produced. Block it and review your privacy settings.
How can you check for Mutuals?
Let’s say you want to follow a guy named ‘Gram’ on Instagram or vice versa. Since you’re smart, you want to see the mutuals... Go to his profile. Open the main list of people who follow Gram by tapping ‘Followers’. The first profiles to load will be of people you follow, who also follow Gram.
In case it's not a personal account or a business-type account with a heavy following, see left. You’ll see Mutuals tabs that show the number of followers you have in common with that account. You can learn what brands your friends are into by checking mutuals of business accounts.
What to look for when viewing Mutuals?
When you’re checking the mutuals with Gram, remember the ‘CNN’ rule. ‘CNN can be a good mnemonic for ‘Comments, Names and Numbers’.
First, check the ‘N’ or number of followers Gram has. Now compare that to the number of mutual followers. Ideally, the difference shouldn’t be big. This tells you the overlap between your and Gram’s friend groups. The bigger the overlap, the likelier it is that they’re your kind of people. The smaller the overlap, the chances are Gram has stalked you. Or, it’s a bot.
Next, see the names of their mutual followers. Are they the kind of people whose friends you’d want to keep around? Or maybe they’re those mutual friends you added years ago and never bothered to unfollow? If so, it’s best not to respond affirmatively to Gram.
Finally, pull out your detective gloves and check the comments on Gram’s profile. Are they from the mutuals? If yes, your friends are good friends with this person. Tap that follow button. But are they very similar and from people with weird names? Those are bots. Gram is probably a wannabe influencer who has purchased mass fake accounts. Or he’s just crazy for fame. The answer is obvious but it's your call!
How to identify suspicious accounts
Instagram has had a problem with fake accounts for some time now. Roughly 10 percent of all Instagram accounts are fake. A fake account can mean many things. It could be one of many mass-produced accounts to boost one’s followers. It could also be a bot; an account controlled by a computer instead of a person.
The real nuisances are anonymous accounts. This is because they intend to do something which requires, well anonymity. These accounts can be a threat since they can stalk and spam your profile. Spam accounts can even try and hack you, which usually ends in you getting doxxed.
Look for cliché account pictures and names. In order to remain anonymous, the fake account has to be named randomly. Yet, true randomness is very hard to achieve. So they’ll end up using a widely used name and common picture for their fake account.
Another cue is their followers and following. Fake accounts usually don’t bother to engage online so they have very few or no followers. They also either follow a ton of people or no one at all. If they only follow your followers or people you follow, you’ve found a stalker.
In a nutshell, Instagram can be a really fun place to hang around in the virtual world. But like the real world, you never know who’s lurking in the shadows. Practicing caution is checking your mutuals before adding someone. After all, you wouldn’t want a creep or a robot in your online space, would you?