How Many “Fake” Followers Do Instagram’s Top Celebrities And Brands Have?

Have you ever wondered just how many of your favourite celebrities, brands, sports stars and politicians’ followers are real or fake? TechRobot has conducted a study using the social media auditing tool Modash which estimates the amount of fake and real followers some of the most well-known celebrities and brands have, from Donald Trump to Nike to Dwayne Johnson.


With Instagram being a key social media platform for brand awareness, it’s a great place for a company, celebrity or influencer to grow a following by posting content that’s interesting and engaging. However, since the release of various apps that allow you to check the authenticity of an Instagram user’s followers, this has raised an issue of the platform’s fake follower problem. Bots can easily manipulate an influencers’ follower figures—even without them knowing it.


With these apps being free and easily accessible, it’s easier and quicker than ever to analyze data from people’s Instagram accounts. The influencer industry is now worth upwards of $8 billion per year which means a lot of money could be at risk if Instagram follower figures can be inaccurate.


To get a better understanding of how many of the most popular Instagrammers have genuine followers and how many have been unknowingly manipulated by fake followers or bots, TechRobot audited the top 10 accounts in the worlds of sport, music, film, politics, retail and television. Using a tool that analyses engagement rate and profile content to estimate which followers might be fake, here is what they have found:

Paris Hilton is the Instagrammer with the most fake followers as bots inflate her follower count by 28.6%

Paris Hilton is the celebrity with allegedly the highest number of fake followers on Instagram. She has 15.5m followers, but 28.6% of these are estimated to be bots. Although the model, businesswoman and media personality may not be aware of this, it means that almost 4.5m of her followers could be bots.

In close second is the iconic brand Victoria’s Secret with 28.5% of their 69.9m followers alleged to be fake, followed by Kourtney Kardashian with 27.9%.

Brands: Nike has 46.35 million alleged fake followers out of it’s 168.3 million Instagram followers

As one of the world’s largest brands, you might be surprised to find that Nike apparently has the highest volume of fake followers out of the brands TechRobot analyzed, with 27.54 per cent of their following allegedly not being real.

However, Victoria’s Secret had the highest percentage of fake followers according to the study with 28.5% of their following alleged to be bots or other fake accounts.

Sportspeople: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have an alleged total of 134.14 million fake Instagram followers combined due to bots

Both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have a staggering amount of Instagram followers—Cristiano Ronaldo with 329.1 followers and Lionel Messi with 252.1. However, their alleged fake following is quite concerning.

Messi has an estimated 56.8 million fake followers and Ronaldo has an even greater number at 77.34 million alleged fake subscribers. ​​Both are two of the world’s top earners on Instagram and are paid over hundreds of thousands to promote products on their pages, but collaborators should be aware that many of these could be bots.

Virat Kohli had the highest percentage of real Instagram followers out of the 10 most popular sports stars on the platform. The Indian cricketer and the current captain of the India national team has 144.7 million followers and became one of the first cricketers to reach 100 million followers. 81% of these, 11.6.7m million, are expected to be real.

Actors: Study suggests Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has estimated 50 million fake followers on Instagram

The film stars analyzed by TechRobot with the least fake followers are apparently Gal Gadot, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr and Chris Hemsworth. They all have real followers averaging over 75 per cent. However, ‘The Rock’ has over five times as many alleged fake followers: 53.18 million out of his massive 263 million followers is estimated to not be real. Again, this is likely the result of bots targeting well-known celebrities such as ‘The Rock’, whose films ‘Jungle Cruise’ and ‘Jumanji’ have been huge box office hits.

Musicians: Ariana Grande has 66.17 million alleged fake followers out of her astounding 194.13 Instagram followers

Ariana Grande has the highest number of real followers out of the 10 most popular musicians on Instagram. 66.17m of her overall followers are real, with only 25.4% estimated to be fake profiles or bots.

The award-winning, American singer, actress, and songwriter is one of the highest-earning Instagrammers and has one of the most followed Instagram accounts of all time.

She’s had many endorsement deals with top brands which she has promoted all over her Instagram. These brands include Ultra Beauty, Givenchy, Reebok, Guess, MAC, Starbucks, Fiat, and even Samsung. Not to mention her own perfumes which, since 2015, have earned her more than $150 million in the first two years of sales.

The musician with the largest number of fake followers was found to be Katy Perry. 27.8% of her following was found to allegedly be fake, which amounts to over 36m of her followers.

Politics: Joe Biden has most trustworthy profile whilst Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Donald Trump have 17-23% of alleged fake followers

The controversial ex-President of the United States Donald Trump has 24 million followers on Instagram, with 82.57 per cent of those being “real” followers. The rest are bots that likely follow the former President without his knowledge. Although Joe Biden doesn’t have as many followers as Trump, Biden’s real following rate percentage stands strong at 88.88 per cent; the highest percentage of “real” followers out of all the politicians analysed by TechRobot.

Media Personalities: Kim, Kourtney, Khloé Kardashian and Kris, Kylie, Kendall Jenner have estimated 276.22 million fake followers combined

Nobody can talk about social media without mentioning the Kardashians or the Jenners. Not only have they changed popular culture but they helped to establish the rise of the notorious social media influencer career.

Social media is a key part of this family’s career and success; sponsored posts are believed to be about 25 per cent of their income. After creating her iconic Kylie’s Cosmetics line, which grew quickly due to her various pop-up stores and social media promotion, she was able to sell the business and become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. The fortune does not stop there, however; the celebrity influencer is able to charge roughly between $491,789 – $819,648 per post and is mostly seen endorsing luxury fashion, beauty brands and her own brands.

So just how much influence does this family have on Instagram? Between the family, they have just over one billion Instagram followers, which is an extraordinary amount of influence. It even tops the population of Europe.

Nevertheless, bots have inevitably targeted the Kardashian family because of their success. Now, very likely without their knowledge, a combined 276.22 million of their followers are alleged to be fake.

Sources and methodology:

A social media audit was conducted using Modash, which “analyses millions of Instagram accounts and compares their behaviour”.

Some examples of metrics they use to determine a “fake follower” include accounts where a profile hasn’t posted in the last year, users that have no bio, and those who ‘like’ over 200 photos per day.

They also analyse the engagement rate of accounts and the ratio of profiles followed compared against those who follow them.

More information about the tool can be found at Modash.

A “fake follower” does not indicate that followers have been purchased. The profiles studied may not even be aware of the fact they have them.

“Fake followers” may simply be bots following famous accounts.

Brands and celebrities were chosen based on popularity as determined by Trackalytics.