The true-scale of cheating on ITV’s Love Island has been laid bare by new social media research showing that every contestant (with one exception) boosted their Instagram influencer status by amassing an army of fake followers.
Marketing specialists Takumi drilled down into the Instagram profiles for each of the 17 contestants seeking love in the latest series of the ITV hit using their AI analytics software and machine learning tools, but soon found all was not as it seemed.
They found that over 50% of purported followers were fake. Amber Rose Gill and Jordan Hames topping a roll of shame with 65% fake followers each. Of all the reality cohort only Maura Higgins tipped the balance in favour of genuine fans with a 55/45% split.
At the other extreme six accounts elicited sufficient concern for them to be reported to Facebook with Anna Vakilli adding a suspect 15,000 followers between February and March while Anton Danyluk drew upon an unlikely fanbase in India, Brazil and Mexico – nations which also happen to be notorious for harbouring bot farms.
Takumi chief executive Adam Williams commented: “The results of our research show the extent to which fraudulent activity can take place on Instagram, yet influencers are still powerful marketing tools due to their ability to resonate deeply with their core audiences. Brands must carefully consider who they work with and how they assess their worth. The scale of someone’s social media following doesn’t necessarily equate to real influence among consumers.”
The contestants ranked by the percentage of fake followers:
Amber Rose Gill (@amberrosegill): 535k followers - 65% fake followers
Jordan Hames (@jxrdanhames) – 34k followers - 65% fake followers
Joe Garratt (@josephgarratt): 412k followers 64% fake
Yewande Biala (@yewande_biala): 365k followers - 64% fake
Michael Griffiths (@mac_griffiths_): 478k followers 63% fake
Callum McLeod (@callum_macleod): 243k followers 62% fake
Tommy Fury (@tommytntfury): 971k followers - 60% fake
Danny Williams (@itsdannywilliams): 101k followers - 59% fake
Amy Hart (@amyhartxo): 447k followers - 59% fake
Elma Pazar (@elmapazar): 68k followers - 58% fake
Lucie Rose Donlan (@lucierosedonlan): 857k followers - 56% fake
Anna Vakili (@annavakili_): 495k followers - 53% fake
Molly Mae Hague (@mollymaehague): 701k followers - 53% fake
Anton Danyluk (@anton_danyluk): 342k followers - 52% fake
Curtis Pritchard (@curtispritchard12): 588k followers - 52% fake
Tom Walker (@tom9walker): 29.9k followers - 50% fake
Maura Higgins (@maurahiggins): 322k followers - 45% fake
Ria Campbell, head of content, Southpaw: "So who dunnit? The Love Islanders? The show’s producers? A collective scheme to mimic in-mates’ legitimacy as influencers to convert into show ratings? Who knows and who cares because the outcomes will be these: a good result for influencer marketing and a bad knock for Instagram’s credibility.
"Influencer marketing is powerful. Its legitimacy as a comms channel can only benefit from fakers being caught out publicly. With any luck Takumi’s investigative powers will deepen the divide between real talent with integrity and those looking for a cheap and easy shot at celebrity - in the process giving better guardrails around who brands should work with, and who to blacklist. I hope the long-term effect will be to celebrate those doing it honestly and force everyone else to fall in line - or fall out of favour.
"Fraudulent activity is a tough oily smear to wipe off Facebook’s previously unblemished golden child. Brands should take nothing for granted and push for measurability and transparency at all levels: brand, platform and influencer. Stuff will still fall through the cracks, but you can’t fault a genuine shot at being 100% real.“