Have you been paying attention to your following count on Instagram, and notice that it’s going up and down – even if you’re not actually following anyone new?

Believe it or not, this is normal. But what actually causes your following count to fluctuate like this?

Ultimately, it comes down to five different reasons. In this article, I’ll be covering each one of them, so you can have a better understanding on why your following count may keep changing.

Let’s get to it!

1. Bot Accounts Are Being Removed

Instagram App

This is one of the big ones.

And the more people that you’re following, the larger the fluctuations are going to be.

Instagram has a much larger bot problem then most people realize. Even accounts that appear perfectly legitimate, aren’t being used for spam and share real, engaging posts may be fully automated bot accounts.

When Instagram discovers an account that has been breaking their community guidelines, they ban the account – causing it to be removed from your following list.

If you’re following thousands of accounts on Instagram, it’s possible for your following count to drop quite frequently due to suspensions alone.

That being said, there are things that can bring it back up too, so this is often balanced out with the next point that I’m about to share.

2. Old, Deactivated Accounts Are Being Reinstated

When accounts are removed from Instagram due to rule violations, all of the followers are permanently lost.

However, if an account owner chooses to deactivate their Instagram account, their following is kept in place.

This means that if they choose to reactivate and reinstate their Instagram account later on, all of their old followers will return.

Here’s where things get confusing.

When they deactivate their account, they are removed from your following list. After all, if you were to try and visit their page, it wouldn’t be there – it’s effectively gone.

However, when they reactivate their account again, their following list returns – including you.

This causes your following count to go back up again, since their account is now available.

Therefore, your following count goes up – despite not following anybody new! Like bot accounts, this occurs more frequently as your following count grows.

3. Someone Else Is Logged Into Your Account

Before panicking, I’d like to point out that the majority of the time, it’s the first two points that are causing your following account to constantly change.

However, it’s important to note that somebody else being logged into your account as a possibility.

To confirm whether this may be the case, there are two things you can do.

First, check the actual accounts that you’re following, and make sure that they’re accounts that you recognize.

If someone else is logged into your account, they will appear to be following random people, that you have no connection with.

This may also be done by automated software. For example, some people have signed up for software that claims to get them more followers. However, that software also uses your account to follow other people’s accounts as well.

After you’ve checked the people you’ve followed recently, you should also check to see what other devices are signed into your account.

You can view a complete list by following these instructions:

  1. Tap on your Instagram profile.
  2. Tap on the icon with three horizontal lines in the top-right corner.
  3. Tap on ‘Settings.’
  4. Tap on ‘Security.’
  5. Tap on ‘Login Activity.’

If you see devices you don’t recognize, tap on the icon with three dots, and then ‘Log Out’ to sign them out. At this point, it’s also recommended that you change your password.

For more information, see: How To Log Out Of Instagram On All Devices (Quick Guide)

You can also check what software has access to your account by returning to the security section, and tapping on ‘Apps and websites’ under the ‘Data and history’ section.

4. People Are Following And Unfollowing You

This one is mainly for the ‘followers’ rather than the ‘following’ list, but it’s a good idea to be aware of it as well.

On Instagram, one of the most popular ways that people try to grow their accounts is through something called ‘follow / unfollow.’

Essentially, it works like this – someone follows a bunch of accounts at once. Usually, it’s the followers of someone like them, or everyone that posts under a certain hashtag.

Since you will get a notification when you’ve been followed, they hope that you’ll reciprocate and follow them back as well.

Then, after a few days, they will unfollow everyone they recently followed, and repeat the process.

So, your follower count will rise when they follow you, and drop back down when they unfollow you. If you have lots of people doing this at once, it’s possible for your follower count to change rapidly!

The reason I mention it in this article however is this – if you’re doing this strategy yourself, it’s likely that you’re using automatic software. This software will have permission to follow and unfollow accounts on your behalf, without your knowledge, which can cause your following count to keep changing.

This behavior may be against Instagram’s rules, so it’s a good idea to stop it regardless!

5. People Are Removing You As A Follower

Finally, it’s also possible that people have removed you as a follower.

Admittedly, this one should be pretty rare.

After all, unless someone has a specific reason to, it’s not common for people to go out of their way to remove followers on Instagram. In fact, most of us want as many followers as we can get!

Still, this is one way your following count can drop, even if you didn’t specifically unfollow someone yourself.

If you suspect a specific person, you can always check your following list to see if they’re still listed as someone that you follow.


It’s normal for your following count to change, and it’s also completely outside of your control.

Due to other people getting their accounts closed – or reinstating them, your following count will fluctuate even without making any changes yourself.

I hope that this article has shown you why, and you have a better understanding on why your following count keeps changing.

If you have any other questions about Instagram, ask them below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.

Thanks for reading,

– James McAllister

About the author 

James McAllister

James is the owner of JamesMcAllisterOnline.com. He started his first blog at the age of 11, and has since gone on to start several successful businesses. In total, these businesses have sold hundreds of thousands of units and have touched millions of lives. Here on JamesMcAllisterOnline.com, he shares his knowledge that brought him to where he is today. If you want to connect with James, follow him on your favorite social networks!

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