A hugely popular Instagram account with millions of followers was banned for spreading a coronavirus scam.
Instagram account @bestmemes was banned from the platform on Monday morning after posting misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the weekend, according to , the account posted fake tweets that were made to look like they were from the official Barack Obama and Donald Trump Twitter accounts.
…..this massive meme account made a fake Obama tweet to peddle one of their scams pic.twitter.com/RgVJuYYhBd
— Alex Thomas (@AlexThomasDC) March 29, 2020
The fake tweets read “due to the CoronaVirus, if your state is currently under lockdown, you are eligible for $1000 via @PayPal by completing the #StayAtHome survey. Stay strong everyone.” They included a PayPal screenshot showing a balance of $1,448.71.
“Ends at 7pm. Link in my bio. 🙏” added the @bestmemes account in the Instagram caption. The link in the bio led to a three-question survey and asked users to provide their email address.
Suffice to say, PayPal is not giving away $1,000 to people completing a coronavirus survey.
On Sunday, the posts including the fake Obama and Trump tweets were removed by Instagram for violating its coronavirus misinformation policies.
However, not long after the posts were removed, the fake Obama tweet was reposted on the @bestmemes account. It was again taken down later that night.
A spokesperson for Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, confirmed to Daily Dot that it had removed the account over “repeated community standards violations.” The social network, along with other big tech companies like Google and Microsoft, earlier this month committing to “jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus.”
It’s notable that an Instagram account with so many followers would partake in this scam. Obviously, with so many followers, it was capable of quickly spreading misinformation.
With close to 14 million followers, the @bestmemes account could have been used for legitimate business endeavors. The @fuckjerry Instagram account, for example, was parlayed into a successful although internet media company. As Daily Dot notes, the @fuckjerry Instagram account has around 15 million followers.
Regardless, it’s an encouraging move from Instagram to remove fraudulent content clearly trying to prey on people’s financial concerns while many are out of work during this global pandemic.