By Scott Kleinberg, Tribune Newspapers
March 14, 2013
Did you know there's a limit to how many people you can follow on Instagram? Neither did I, and that inspired me to do a column on things you didn't know about your favorite social media sites. While there are many, here's more on that Instagram one and two useful bits of information for Facebook and Twitter.
7,500 is the Instagram follow limit: I don't remember Instagram imposing such a limit, but it exists. There's no limit to how many people can follow you, though. The only reason I found out was because I was having a problem following new people, so I did some research. What's interesting is that I was following 10,895 before I found out. I was an early adopter on Instagram and enjoyed making new friends. According to Instagram, people can only follow more than 7,500 if they did so before the limit was put in place. So I had to unfollow at least 3,396 people to follow someone new.
Further complicating the issue, the Instagram API only allows 160 follows or unfollows per hour. So my quest to shed followers has been a time-consuming one.
I found an app called InstaFollow that's been a great help. For the iPhone, the app is free but an in-app 99 cent charge unlocks the functionality to follow and unfollow. The app is also available for Android.
AFC isn't just a football conference: In social media, and specifically Twitter, AFC stands for aggressive follow churn - when an account repeatedly follows and then un-follows a large number of users. According to Twitter, this common tactic is done for a variety of reasons including to get noticed, to circumvent a Twitter limit, or to change their follower-to-following ratio. Don't do it, no matter how pure your intentions, because it can lead to account suspension.
So what's this follower-to-following ratio we hear so much about? Each Twitter user can follow 2,000 people. Once you reach that threshold, the limit varies for each user and it's based on your ratio of followers to following. Luckily math is forbidden when you work at a newspaper, so my general rule of thumb is this: It's almost always better for your follower number to be higher than your following number. As I've discussed before, you shouldn't automatically follow someone just because they follow you. Being selective is using social media wisely.
Facebook has a password unlock feature that requires actual telephone calls to your Facebook friends: What? Call my Facebook friends? Why would I ever do that? Well, if you get locked out of your account to the point where traditional methods of unlocking aren't possible, that's your fix.
Specially, Facebook says the following: "Recovering your account through friends is a secure alternative for proving your identity when you can't remember your password and can't access any of the email accounts connected to your Facebook account."
While not all Facebook accounts are eligible, the process is supposed to work like this: Facebook helps you choose some trusted friends. Then, each of those friends is sent a security code. Finally, you need to call these friends to collect your codes and then follow the instructions to submit them. Facebook says it's very important this process is not done via text message or email. What's not clear is how Facebook polices this — or even if it can. Once that's all settled, a 24-hour waiting period starts before you can log back into your account, something Facebook calls an extra security precaution.
My advice? Don't lose your password. While it's great Facebook offers such help, that's not something you want to have to go through.
Interesting, right? Heard of any others? Share them with me.
What questions do you have about social media? Tweet them to @scottkleinberg or @amyguth. We might select yours for use in a future column.
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