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Fake Instagram Accounts And Online Harassment

Fake Instagram accounts are a real scourge for those at the receiving end of online harassment. Slanderous pages, hateful messages and vicious rumours threaten victims’ wellbeing, relationships, and careers. But what can you do about fake accounts and online lies? Do perpetrators just get away with it? Thankfully, Cybertrace’s experienced investigators have the tools and capability to deliver vital intelligence to help victims get justice. Contact us today to see how we can help. But first, let’s look at some scenarios to understand how online harassment works and why it is so insidious.

A growing problem

In previous blogs, we have explored online harassment in general as well as in relation to Facebook. However, it’s important to not let Instagram off the hook. Despite its reputation as ‘the nicest place on the internet’, in recent years it’s increasingly become a platform for online harassment. The proliferation of fake Instagram accounts that enable this online harassment has been a growing problem for many years. By some estimates, an astonishing one in ten Instagram accounts, or 95 million, are fake! While many are scams, spam, or politically motivated bots, quite a few specifically facilitate online harassment. Let’s look at how this plays out by considering the case of a recent Cybertrace client (all names changed for privacy).

Aliyah’s case

Aliyah had been best friends with Larissa for many years, but their friendship had ended on bad terms. Larissa was obviously upset with Aliyah and vowed to get revenge against her. A little while later, several harassing fake Instagram accounts containing Aliyah’s name started appearing. They insinuated she was having affairs with unknown men and used highly defamatory language, all under the guise of anonymity. Due to their history, she thought that Larissa might be behind them, but how could she know for sure? As more and more of these accounts started appearing, Aliyah felt helpless, vulnerable, and exposed. Luckily, she found Cybertrace and turned to our investigators who were able to gather vital intelligence. Armed with our expert investigation, Aliyah took Larissa to civil court. After considering Cybertrace’s meticulous report, the magistrate granted an apprehended violence order (AVO) against Larissa. This resulted in all Instagram harassment ceasing.

Common motive: revenge

Unfortunately, Aliyah’s case is far from unique. Cybertrace investigators regularly work on identifying perpetrators of online harassment and almost all are motivated by a desire for revenge. Whether a jilted former lover, an unrequited crush, or a jealous former best friend – they all want to get even! Cybertrace’s psychological profilers understand that acting aggressively out of revenge usually points to personal insecurity following rejection. Of course, no one enjoys being wronged or rejected but few of us start acting aggressively out of spite. However, researchers have found that, for some, the pain of rejection can actually be quickly replaced by pleasure if they have a chance to get even. Setting up fake Instagram accounts to harass others whom they deem responsible gives perpetrators a sense of renewed control. While this might explain the motivation behind online harassment, the more important question is: what can you do about this?

What can you do?

If someone harasses you online, there are of course a variety of immediate responses you have at your disposal. You can block accounts, delete comments, and enhance your privacy settings. Like most other platforms, Instagram also has a reporting function for bullying and harassment. However, it is a slow process with uncertain outcomes and Instagram won’t tell you who is behind the account. And even if Instagram acts and shuts down an account, harassers often simply set up another one. A game of whack-a-mole ensues but the central task remains unsolved. You still don’t know who is behind the fake Instagram accounts! And if you try to involve the police or your lawyer, they can’t act without that information either. Luckily, you have come to the right place: Cybertrace can help you find out who’s behind a fake Instagram account.

Cybertrace to the rescue!

As a leader in the field of cyber investigation, Cybertrace uses a combination of technical investigative techniques to find out who is behind a fake Instagram account. This includes comparing published content and writing styles used by the fake profile to any individuals identified as potential suspects. Cybertrace has also developed its own highly specialised tools with the capability to deploy through Instagram to extract user information, such as an IP address. No other investigators use these devices and the social engineering our investigators deploy to trap harassers. Instead, they remain one of Cybertrace’s leading tools to find out who is behind fake Instagram accounts or other social media profiles.

Over the past few years, we have been able to successfully reveal numerous harassers’ personal information and IP addresses. Clients like Aliyah have taken this information to their lawyers, the police, and the courts to get justice. Contact us today to stop cyber bullies and reclaim your reputation, sanity, and peace of mind!

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