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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.

Jack Alexander's picture

A 28-year-old self-taught photographer, Jack Alexander specialises in intimate portraits with musicians, actors, and models.

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"Forget facebook and twitter".....

Instagram is facebook....

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

They're one in the same.

Counter point: they literally aren't.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Thanks, very informative.

FORTY NINE minutes?


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

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

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.

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?

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

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,

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.


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

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!

These hardships...