Instagram fixes Singapore viral 'bug'

Instagram says it has fixed a "bug" that saw users geo-tag themselves as being in Singapore in a bid to go viral - even though they were not there.

Some users claimed the apparent hack increased the chances of a post reaching the coveted Explore page on the photo-sharing app.

Posts in that section are likely to get many more likes and attract followers.

Instagram confirmed to the BBC that it was a "bug that impacted engagement" when posts were tagged with Singapore.

Like on Facebook, what appears on your Instagram is based on the firm's algorithm. The spokesperson added that they have now fixed the issue.

The 'Singapore boost'

The trend started when dozens of prominent "influencers" were seen tagging their Instagram photos with the location "Singapore, Singapore", despite being nowhere near the South East Asian city-state.

In a technology feature published earlier this week, Tech Mic reported that the trick caught on with internet stars like King Bach and Christian Collins, who began geo-tagging their posts to gain wider reach.


How the 'hack' worked:

Step One: Create a post on Instagram, setting 'Singapore, Singapore' as your location.

Step Two: Publish your post and watch it attract likes and comments from random strangers across the world.

Step Three: Once you see the higher engagement, remove the odd and incorrect location.

The confusion soon spread to Twitter, where users began to express their disbelief, wondering if their favourite Instagram stars were in town.

"Why does everybody have 'Singapore, Singapore' as their location on Instagram? Did I miss something," asked one Twitter user.

Another user Ellie Thompson wrote: "This Singapore location thing on Instagram proves how much people only care about likes."

Singapore-based digital strategist Anna Lee described it as the "Singapore boost".

"Having a large number of likes on your Instagram posts feels good and being featured on the Explore page is a great way to find new followers," Ms Lee told BBC News.

She added that she was "puzzled" as to why the tiny city-state in particular added such a boost.

"It is probably just a fad and will pass. The only way to continually engage and enlarge your fan base boils down to having interesting content that will add value for your followers."