When you post an Instagram Story, you typically expect the usual suspects to see it: your besties, your family, the people you went to high school with who you haven’t spoken to in 10 years, and all the girls you’ve met in line for the bathroom that are team #followback. But if you’ve been noticing some clearly out-of-place characters showing up in your Viewers lately, you’re probably wondering why these bots are watching your IG Stories all of a sudden. Though the exact reason why remains unclear, there is a theory circulating on TikTok that makes a lot of sense.
If your Stories have been attracting an influx of fake accounts recently, it likely doesn’t reflect the kind of content you’ve been posting. It’s also not necessarily a sign that someone is trying to hack you. It might mean, though, that you have someone (or several people) keeping tabs on you from afar, like an ex or a supervisor. According to a TikTok from @hannahsocialfolk, bot Story views may be attributed to third-party websites that allow users to view Stories from an account that’s not their own. That’s right, there’s a loophole that lets you watch someone’s Stories (almost) anonymously, which is convenient if you want to check in on your coworkers every once in a while, but not so convenient if you’re the one being checked in on.
People tend to use these websites when they want to view a Story but don’t want their name to appear in the Viewers section, and that’s where the sketchy bots come into play. If you’re not sure whether or not your Stories have been targeted, the creator explains that the bots usually have spammy or even sexually suggestive names. The TikToker also claims these covert viewers can download your Story without your knowledge, which is kind of unsettling to think about, TBH.
In a follow-up video, @hannahsocialfolk clarifies that just because you have multiple bots viewing your Stories doesn’t mean you have multiple “stalkers.” It could just be one person viewing your Stories several times a day and appearing under numerous accounts, although I’m not sure that’s any better. The creator also reveals the people you’ve blocked from viewing your Stories can still access the 24-hour posts through these third-party websites, which might be the scariest part of it all. It doesn’t appear as though you can prevent this from happening either because according to the creator, “you can’t block them because they’re in disguise.”
User @brittanymarzo admits she’s had issues with the bots spamming her page in the past, but they’re not lurking on her Stories anymore — they’re interacting with them. The creator shares that although the bots first made themselves known by viewing her IG Stories, they eventually disappeared from the Viewer section and started making themselves known by liking her Stories instead. Yikes.
BuzzFeed News, however, reported that there’s no connection between bots liking your Stories and these third-party apps. A Meta spokesperson revealed to the publication that the company blocks millions of spam accounts per day, saying, “We continue to invest in anti-spam technology and in our safety and security team of over 40,000 people, who are focused on keeping spam and other types of harmful content off our platforms.”
Keep in mind, you’re only at risk of bots viewing your Stories if you have a public Instagram account. If the thought of not knowing who is watching your Stories makes you uncomfortable, you might want to consider switching to private. If that isn’t an option for you, you can always opt to post anything you wouldn’t want your ex to see to Close Friends — just be careful about who you’re adding to the exclusive list.