The new Zeus variant can spew out new Instagram “likes” or followers, for a price, of course. Roughly 1,000 new followers will cost $15, and 1,000 “likes” go for $30. Hackers and credit card scammers are said by security firm RSA to pay about $6 for 1,000 credit card numbers, which makes Instagram clout more valuable than financial data.
The main thing to take away from this news is that hackers and scammers have figured that Instagram power–even when it’s fake–is worth more to some organizations than actual hard cash. Followers are cheaper to buy than “likes” because a fake follower may be a “dead” entity, and a brand or organization that broadcasts its message to more of these followers is simply wasting effort. A “like” is more anonymous and may imply positivity toward a brand–attracting more enthusiasm from the wider public. A recent study has confirmed that “likes” on Facebook itself, which owns Instagram, are actually infectious in a way and attract positive feelings from other Netizens.