New Documentary Exposes How People Cheat at Instagram

A new 49-minute documentary has been released with the aim of exposing the “shocking” goings-on that happen beneath the surface of Instagram. The film promises to delve into the “lawless economics” of the social media site.

With over one billion active users, Instagram has become a way of life. For many, it serves as their primary source of income via sponsored posts and by participating in adverts.

Courtesy of Dutch public broadcaster VPRO, the film, which is free to watch, was launched this week via Instagram TV, but is also available as a vertical YouTube video.

Photographer Sara Melotti, who is featured in the film, said:

[Instagram] became a number game. Numbers are gods today, meaning the number on your social media — the number of followers, the number of likes — unfortunately determines whether you get work or not as a creative freelancer.

Melotti has previously written about her concerns over what Instagram has become, discussing everything from buying bot followers, to joining collective “pods” to further your reach. In the documentary, she reveals more of what she learned from her experience in cheating at Instagram.

The film follows a recent experiment by photographer Trey Ratcliff, who released a book detailing how easy it was to make a new Instagram account, buy followers, and convince legitimate brands to collaborate and sponsor his posts.

Lead image: VPRO.

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Grant Watkins's picture

"Forget facebook and twitter".....

Instagram is facebook....

Jeff Walsh's picture

No its not. Facebook owns Instagram, but it's not Instagram. How the heck did you even come to that conclusion?

Grant Watkins's picture

They're one in the same.

Brandon Rechten's picture

Counter point: they literally aren't.

Jeff Walsh's picture

Holy hell. No way you're actually this dense. This has to be trolling. Literally two different companies that function completely different. One just happens to own the other. This is like saying because Shaquille O’Neal owns a bunch of Five Guys restaurants and Papa John's pizzas, they're the same thing. By your insane logic they're the same because they're owned by the same person.

JetCity Ninja's picture

you didnt know pizza hut, taco bell and KFC are the same thing? they're all owned by Yum! Brands, so they're exactly the same.

Kentucky Taco Hut, man.

Jeff Walsh's picture

I would so eat at a place called Kentucky Taco Hut.

Thomas H's picture

How different? (I do not use either, unthinkable for me to go on social media)

Jeff Walsh's picture

Facebook allow videos, has a marketplace where you can sell things, allows text only status updates, and is generally more all purpose to use with friends and family. Instagram is a photo based social app, where in you must upload a photo (or more recently 1min max video). It also isn't the most conducive to a conversation in that, as I mentioned, it's a photo sharing app rather than a sort of catchall as Facebook is. Instagram is also a very powerful marketing tool if used properly where as Facebook, because of its more communal nature is less effective. They share similarities, but so do LinkedIn, Twitter, hell even Tumblr. It's more about the way people use and function on the platforms that really separates each and makes them unique.

Unless you're Grant up there, then everything is the same as everything because reasons.

Thomas H's picture

Thanks, very informative.

Deleted Account's picture

FORTY NINE minutes?


Dylan Bishop's picture

Yeah I couldn’t make it past that influencer twat talking about clothing and poses.

Ryan Cooper's picture

Oh, boy, do I wish this new trend of long-form VERTICAL video dies quickly... (otherwise great doc)

Clay Wegrzynowicz's picture

I agree, vertical video is painful to watch, but it honestly helps out in this doc, imo. Instagram being a purely vertical medium, after watching I felt like I was on instagram the whole time.

Guy Incognito's picture

What, do you mean to say your eyes are arranged vertically on your face? One in the middle of your forehead and one under your nose or something?

JetCity Ninja's picture

unless you're asian, you can't see the full width of a 16:9 aspect ratio display, so why waste the pixels?

Jeff Colburn's picture

Wow, this is a great video. I had no idea that fraud was so rampant on Instagram. And the further you get into the video, the deeper you go down the rabbit hole. As with so many things online, it's all smoke and mirrors.

Have Fun,

Jeff Walsh's picture

Unpopular opinion, especially for the crotchety folks on this site, this was a really good doc. Well presented, the point was made clear, and frankly it had better journalism than a ton of bloggers and even news media.

user 65983's picture


wesjones's picture

Really fascinating video. I'm just an old dinosaur so all of this is new to me.

Bryan York's picture

Wow! I found that really intriguing and also very sad/disturbing. What are we really becoming?!? I would be really interested in a follow up video/article and seeing what changes instagram really is making. Will this really stop or are we just being played. Makes me feel like we are living in the matrix. Thank you Jack for posting this!

Huh Umair's picture

These hardships...