Instagram confirms bug caused huge drop in follower numbers

A day after Twitter revealed that "an issue" was removing Likes from tweets comes a similar statement from Instagram, which says that a bug is responsible for the massive drops in follower numbers some users have experienced. Complaints about the follower decrease spurred speculation that Instagram was purging inauthentic accounts, but the company has revealed that an ongoing issue is to blame.

Though many Instagram users have a low number of followers, relatively speaking, many celebrities, brands, and "influencers" have millions of people following their accounts. For career Instagrammers, follower numbers are a vital part of making money, and so it's no surprise that some users panicked as their numbers drastically decreased.

What's happening?

Some reports and users have speculated that Instagram was removing large numbers of fake accounts, which could include spammers and other accounts violating the platform's policies. However, Instagram used its official Twitter account to shed light on the issue this morning, saying "an issue" is behind the changes.

"We're aware of an issue that is causing a change in account follower numbers for some people right now," Instagram said. "We're working to resolve this as quickly as possible."

The statement was published in the early morning hours on February 13. The problem remains in effect at this time. Instagram hasn't provided any additional details about what is happening, nor has it said when it expects the problem to be fixed.

Who is affected?

Many users have complained about decreases in their follower numbers, but not everyone is reporting a change. It's unclear at this time how many Instagram users have been impacted by the bug, but it is known that some high-profile accounts with millions of followers have experienced drastic decreases. Makeup artist James Charles published a tweet today stating that his Instagram account had lost half a million followers, for example.

It's not the first time

This isn't the first time social media users have experienced sudden changes in account numbers due to an unexpected issue. On February 12, Twitter dashed censorship conspiracy theories when it confirmed that unusual decreases in "Likes" were caused by "an issue." Early yesterday, some Twitter users — including high-profile accounts — said their tweets had experienced large drops in "Likes," while others reported issues with notifications and retweets.

The unusual activity prompted some users to accuse Twitter of deliberately censoring Likes on tweets from certain groups, and the accusations remained after Twitter revealed the issue. Despite the paranoia, Twitter announced via its Support account on Wednesday afternoon that it had fixed the problem; Likes, notifications, and retweets should be back to normal.