Move Over, Fake News…You’ve Got Some Serious Instagram Competition

Think that deal is too good to be true?

It probably is…especially if you saw it on Instagram.

“Long gone are the days when Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom vetted every ad on the platform,” writes Shareen Pathak in Digiday. “Now, ads for fake shoes, clothes, electronics and even real estate are proliferating on Instagram.

“What makes these ads even more egregious is that some of them, like one claiming to sell Adidas’ Yeezy sneakers for $109, feature doctored brand logos, which raises concerns about reputation both for the brands and Instagram.”

The examples in Pathak’s article look at lot like the scam ads we see on Facebook, offering designer-name women’s clothing for ridiculously low prices.

Instagram has created a self-serve platform for brands that want to advertise there, and more than one million advertisers are taking advantage of the site’s soaring popularity. And with that kind of volume, the fraud gets in.

“We do not allow counterfeit goods to be sold on Instagram. When we catch this type of activity, we move quickly to stop it and remove the violating account,” an Instagram spokesperson was quoted as saying. Pathak says that Instagram reviews millions of ads every week, “but it is a game of whack-a-mole and difficult to police.”

What are brands doing to counter this kind of fraud? Nike, for one, plans to sell their products directly on Instagram, in an effort to put the scammers out of business. Hard to know exactly how that will work, but at least they are doing something.

For the team at Instagram, they need to tighten up the ad policies or risk turning off both brands and consumers.

“Instagram is essentially validating [the ads] by featuring [them] in consumers’ feeds,” said Blake Ricciardi, founder of Popular Demand and a brand consultant. “Just like Facebook has to get a better handle on fake news, Instagram needs to get a better handle on the advertisement of fake products.”