Comments that have nothing to do with the photo you’ve posted, followers that don’t seem completely human despite their profile picture, messages from unknown accounts containing suspicious links or offering to help you get followers… It’s likely that you or some of your friends and maybe even the social media manager at your company have run up against this kind of thing on Instagram.

Spambots continue to be a major headache for the Facebook-owned social network that has over 600 million users. According to a study carried out by Italian researchers, 8% of Instagram accounts are false.

This is a blight on the company’s image, and has led to some embarrassing occurrences, like the time when spammers inundated feeds with a multitude of pornography. Apart from that, there are plenty of brands that use bots to swell the numbers of their followers, a practice that Instagram prohibits. So what can you do about this?

Instagram offers its users a few tools to report spam. The user can delete a comment that she considers offensive and report it, block a user or inform the social network that a profile or a publication is potentially suspicious. For example, if you see that a user does not share photos, follows hundreds of people and only posts comments with links, it could well be a ‘spammer’, although generally try to hide it using an attractive profile photo.

Recently, the social network has included new options to protect privacy. If you’ve decided to make your account private (which is advisable if you don’t want strangers browsing through your photos), then you can now remove followers without having to block them.

Also, all Instagram users can now use an automatic filter that eliminates comments which include a word considered offensive by the community or by the user. Just go to Options, Comments, and Hide inappropriate comments. In fact, you can disable comments on photos and videos altogether.

On the other hand, if an unknown follower sends you a direct message, it is best not to click on the link. It could be a bot sending a malicious ‘link’. It is also possible that its intention is to start a phishing attack.

Improving Instagram account privacy by adding two-step verification, using a strong password, and being careful about sharing content are other tips to avoid running into security problems with your personal or company accounts. And of course, if your using any social network from work computers, Panda Security’s advanced cybersecurity solutions for companies could be a great help in preventing spam from leading to the downloading of malware.